What’s Reasonable and What’s Not

The following is an open letter to City Council member Katie Witt in particular and Longmont City Council in general. —FRL

Ms. Witt, et. al.,

First let me say “thank you” to all parties who took the time to set up the forthcoming open house and those who will be staffing it. I plan on attending to learn more about what the options and plans are.  I found your letter to be open, welcoming and a fair invite to learn more.  I hope other residents attend also. May I suggest that you also post this to the Longmont Facebook page to increase exposure.

I do want to express some concern about what I perceive to be unintended verbiage on your part. Earlier this spring and summer it was outright stated in varying degrees by the city counsel, the airport and MileHi Skying as ‘fact’.

I wish I had the article in front of me to get a direct quote; it seems the TimesCall.com only posts Opinion sections a day late so I can’t get it there either. I read it today at the DeliZone in Longmont (where the football game was on at a fairly loud volume and I could still just make out the Twin Otter buzzing overhead).  I speak solely for myself in this email but think that others may have similar opinion.

The point of this email:

In my opinion, the article indirectly suggested that the city counsel, the airport, MileHi SkyDiving, and the rest of everyone is on-board with the airport and that only a few people were being disruptive to the review process and/or being overly vocal about the noise and low flying planes.

I have lived in my house since March of 2000. During that time I’ve frequently watched MileHi Skydiving and enjoy watching the parachutes come down. Further, there have been plenty of times that I’ve driven by the airport and thought “oh yeah, the airport”.  Living within a mile or so of the airport I have at times forgotten about it since its been an insignificant airport and only occasionally made any real noise. While it would be my preference to have no airplanes overhead, I accept that I bought a house near an airport. That does not mean I surrender all rights to have an opinion, to be annoyed, and to mount a protest, as suggested by some parties. Nor did I ever sign a waiver. If I did, provide me a copy and I’ll apologize for my bad memory.

For eleven plus years, I’ve never filed a complaint against the airport but have been upset at times.  I accept a reasonable amount of noise during reasonable hours from good-neighbor pilots. And we have had that more or less.

MileHi Skydiving is no where close to reasonable on either front. Just because it’s not illegal doesn’t make it right. It’s a minor fear of mine that others will join the bandwagon of making more noise and doing crazy low-flying stunts because they know the city and airport will back them.

The reason I mention this, is that I’m (and I think I could say “we”) not on some crazed endeavor to close the airport or get the airport moved.

MileHi Skydiving is the disruptive party in the city. Not the residents who have been forced to take action. From my vantage point, there was no serious level of complaining going on concerning the airport up until MileHi Skydiving converted their operation into a noise machine.  It’s a beautiful day outside and I’d just as soon be doing any number of other things right now then writing this letter. MileHi Skydiving is “forcing” me to do this.

There is also the unfortunate timing that MileHi Skydiving became the disruptive party around the the same time the fight over the Airport Master Plan review flared up. For me, reading Mr. Baum’s article stating that he and the counsel would this time expand the airport regardless of public vote started this whole mess and THEN MileHi Skydiving stepped in and made it worse.  I think these two issues have become too intertwined but are of valid concern for me and others.  The fire was originally fueled by others, not us residents who were previously enjoying living a quiet lifestyle.

As Ms. Gibbs stated earlier today, yes the concerned citizens will push for airport closure or relocation if all else fails. We accept that doesn’t mean we will win, but it’s viewed as an option to fight for. But first things first. We are completely open to sit down and discuss the issues and try to reach an agreement. There seems to be some movement in this area from the other parties.  For that, I am appreciative. The verdict is still out though as to whether this is just lip service.

Some things need to be stated about the concerned citizens:

  • that it is reasonable for some subset of the 100,000+ residents of Boulder county to be upset about the noise
  • that it is reasonable for some subset of the 100,000+ residents of Boulder county to be upset about the low flying planes. The sad stunt plane accidents of the last week should be a reminder that things can go wrong. Maverick stunts in the air are dangerous even when performed by professionals with decades of experience. The stunts being performed in the Fort Collins with the crop dusters are just down right scary.  Maybe the pilots have to fly low due to the FAA; we been told ‘yes’ and that is what caused the statements that if it’s dangerous to fly into the current airport maybe then it’s best to move or close the airport. Not saying “Close, Baby, Close” but residents aren’t responsible for the fact that the city built these homes right next to the airport. Maybe if there had been a master plan this would have been avoided.
  • that is is reasonable for the general public to be concerned that runway expansion may mean more noise.
  • that it is unreasonable for elected officials and business owners to publicly insult these people in an attempt to discredit them. It’s bad enough when this happens in D.C. but much worse when our own neighbors are doing it us.
  • that it is reasonable that they city take responsibility when signing contracts with business of any type that might want to open a shop. I would hope the city would think twice before allowing strip mining operation on main street or a plutonium refinery in place of the Twin Peaks mall just because it makes money.
  • that it is unreasonable for the city counsel to be unconditionally closed to the opinions and concerns of the residents outside of the city limits because they have no voting power in the city.
    that it is reasonable that the concerned citizens be treated with respect by those who may disagree with their actions, even if there was only one of us.

Likewise, some things need to be stated about the city council, the airport and MileHi Skydiving:

  • that it is reasonable for MileHi Skydiving to run a business and to continue to operate out of Longmont airport
  • that it is reasonable for the city to operate a SMALL airport
  • that there is nothing wrong with being pro-business; there just needs to be reasonable controls in place. I’d love to see Longmont become something other than a rundown ghost of it’s past. However, one of my concerns is that MileHi Skydiving will scare other away businesses that might already be here or thinking about coming.
    • I wonder if the cool idea of an RTD station would really sell expensive condos if people come here and hear constant airplane noise.
    • For me, I’m glad to see the turkey plant leave and hope Mr. Baum (and the counsel) does redevelop that eye-sore. Yes, to pro business.  Just don’t say ‘yes’ to any company that comes to town waving money around. If you don’t have to agree about the noise concerns but I hope it gives the counsel pause when considering other business contracts in the future.
  • that it is reasonable that the city counsel, the airport manager and other parties at the airport, and the owner and operators of MileHi Skydiving be treated with respect by those who may disagree with their actions.

But those of us who are trying to find a reasonable outcome will continue to make every effort to win our fight for reasonably quiet skies above us.

  • Yes, we will be vocal via a soon to be growing number of methods/outlets.
  • Yes, we will continue to seek others who are concerned but haven’t come forward
  • No, we won’t go away because of threats, being ignored, or publicly dismissed as not-relevant
  • Yes, at times we will be frustrated and unhappy with the city, the airport, and MileHi Skydiving. This doesn’t mean it’s a personal attack. But yes at times it will likely seem that way. But I will speak for the group without permission when I say we will make every effort to avoid that from happening.
  • As we continue to seek a solution, this situation will invariably grow in exposure. That exposure is likely to cause discomfort. This isn’t desirable for anyone and is an unfortunate side effect. The sooner an agreement is reached, the more this can be avoided. At the end of the day, we’re all people just trying to live our lives, earn a living, and raise families. Let’s find a solution sooner than later.

  1 comment for “What’s Reasonable and What’s Not

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *