Quieter skies are needed

Editor’s Note: Ms. Gibbs presented the following to Longmont City Council at it’s Regular Session on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Otter at Longmont Vance Brand Airport

Twin Otter at Longmont Vance Brand Airport

My home is located in Gunbarrel, about 8 miles from Vance Brand airport. I’m here to speak in support of the Citizens for Quiet Skies and for the proposed review of Mile-Hi Skydiving operations. which Mr. Bowker spoke about.

I would like to welcome the new council and also commend Mr. Bagley for publicly acknowledging that Mile-Hi is imposing a serious noise problem. In view of increasing public concern and frustration, I believe that council members who continue to deny there is a problem will be perceived as out of touch. You have the opportunity to be heroes among the citizens of Longmont and neighbors like me by facing this issue head on.

There is sufficient justification at this time to conduct a review and the resulting noise abatement strategy may necessarily include multiple components.

For example, section 4.4 of the Mile-Hi Specialty-Based Operator lease provides an example of a possible restriction aimed at reducing the impact of Mile-Hi Skydiving operations: To paraphrase, it states that as a result of meetings to evaluate their impact to the community the City will “determine if any adjustments or limitations are necessary to the skydiving operation, including but not limited to reduced hours of operation.”

During my research, I came across an October 2006 City Council Communication. In part, this memo discussed “community concerns and impacts” and sought to compare Mile-Hi Skydiving with “similar skydive operators”. The memo goes on to say that “Deland Municipal Airport, located in Deland Florida, is one of the few public airports that has a skydive operation similar to Longmont.” The DeLand skydive operator there also has multiple aircraft, including a Twin Otter. Of course, I was interested to learn more so I called Nik Landgraf, the Deland Airport Manager.

I asked him about the Twin Otter and whether it generated a lot of complaints. He told me that the flight training school generated more complaints and that the skydiving company had voluntarily installed what’s called a hush kit to reduce noise on their Twin Otter. The particular kit is manufactured by MT Propeller and costs about $100,000 to install.

Also, as a result of community concerns, the City of Deland commissioned a formal noise study to provide objective data and assist with their efforts. I agree with their approach. As an analytical person, I believe we can make better choices by evaluating real data – a noise study is an important component of our proposed review and I hope you will give it serious consideration.

Among the conclusions provided in the report is an outline of several FAA-approved measures that the City, as the airport proprietor, has direct authority to implement. One example taken from their report is “Adopting mandatory restrictions based on aircraft noise characteristics.”

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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