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"Boulder, Colorado airport noise is an issue again"



Monday, March 26, 2001

Boulder airport noise is an issue again
By Greg Avery
The Daily Camera


Noise from Boulder Municipal Airport has irked a nearby homeowner, who is
reviving the idea of replacing the airport with affordable housing.

Barbara Stoermer, a real estate agent living near the intersection of 63rd
and Jay roads northeast of the airport, complained to the Boulder City
Council in an e-mail Thursday.

She said that in recent months pilots have increasingly violated voluntary
restrictions designed to keep planes from going over her neighborhood, and
the noise is deteriorating the neighborhood's quality of life.

"There seems to be a grass-roots effort against the airport beginning to
organize," Stoermer wrote. "In fact, many of us would be very supportive of
any future decision by the City to use the ... airport land for affordable
housing."

Activists targeted the 73-year-old airport last year for closure. They
sought to replace the 138-acre, city-owned aviation center with affordable
housing, in part to eliminate noise problems.

The City Council rejected the idea last March. Federal Aviation
Administration grant commitments would make closing the airport impossible
for the next two decades, Councilman Gordon Riggle said.

Airport officials say they find no evidence that pilots routinely violate
the voluntary policy to avoid residential areas.

Two decades ago, the city adopted a voluntary flight pattern and
noise-abatement program that designated neighborhoods of northeast Boulder
as areas to be avoided. More recently, an area over the Flatirons was made
off-limits.

Airport manager Ray Grundy said he spent an hour one morning last week
monitoring flights in the area and saw none violating the no-fly zone.

"I'm not that naive to believe everybody flies a perfect pattern," Grundy
said, "but we make every reasonable effort we can to identify people and get
compliance with noise regulations."

Federal regulations govern airport noise levels and set standards for
flights.

Since 1995, airport officials have taken 3,373 noise readings in areas that
have generated complaints, Grundy said. In those readings, 10 recorded
flights were found to exceed the desired noise levels in the neighborhood,
he said.

Southwest Boulder resident Don Glen, who helped draw up the city's voluntary
airplane noise-fighting plan in 1981, said he is concerned about the noise
from planes towing gliders from the airport.

Glen also said gliders have not been observing the restriction on the area
over the Flatirons, where gliders are not supposed to fly less than 1,000
feet above the ground.

"In years past, I've seen planes scare falcons off the nest," Glen said.
"These guys try to get away with what they can. If it means closing down the
airport to get rid of this stuff, great."

David Campbell, owner of Mile High Gliding at the airport, said pilots try
to address noise issues whenever they can.

Over the past year, the gliding club bought quieter, four-blade propellers
for its glider-towing planes.

"Those propellers cost us $5,000 apiece, and I get nothing out of it except
keeping the neighbors happy," Campbell said. "We've done everything we can
except quit flying."

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