Longmont held an airport open house recently to allow the public to come see the plans for the airport and to allow them to speak to experts who are involved in the master plan update that is currently underway.
There were a large number of people who showed up and among them were known critics of the airport improvement plans, who at times were verbally abusive when airport users spoke about the airport. One conversation with an expert from Jviation centered around different options for the extension of the runway at the airport. An airport user, who is also a Longmont resident and taxpayer, had voiced concern over a safety issue with the current runway length and the need for it to be lengthened. According to this airport patron, there are families of flyers at the Longmont airport who use small aviation craft in lieu of commercial airlines as a mode of transport. When traveling out of the Longmont airport, because of the current runway length (and coupled with safe aircraft weight limitations for passengers and baggage), they often are not able to fully top off the gas tank before they go on long family trips like most families are able to do when taking their family in their autos for long trips. A large landowner near the airport (who also had asked how the plans would benefit a local citizen) overheard this and remarked to this airport user that this particular airport user “was just a small portion of the community, could park their plane at the Loveland airport and could top it off there.” Given that the FAA and CDOT will cover 95-97.5% of the cost for the airport master plan improvements, that opinion from a non-user of the airport is unfair to those who are essentially paying for it. In addition, according to a rep from Jvaition, “If you also follow the economic multiplier, the person who wants it also pays taxes here that benefit other city services.”
In attendance at the Airport Open House was Linda Bruce of the FAA. She has been involved with the Longmont Airport Master Plan process since the beginning and has emphasized that in comparison to other airport master plans at other airports of this size, Longmont has gone above and beyond in allowing public input on the process. While instances of noise complaints by neighbors of the airport are being acknowledged and documented by the City of Longmont and members of its airport board, reports of verbal abuse towards airport users is also on the rise. Linda Bruce addressed the extent to which the general public as well as the city should be allowed to influence users of the airport. According to Linda Bruce, the FAA has no authority to regulate noise and those complaints will not be investigated. People don’t understand that airport users like Mile High Skydiving are legally doing what they are allowed to do. “Why would we discriminate against the guy who is following the rules?” While Mile High Skydiving might be the bane of existence for some neighboring critics, the city “is required to treat all airport tenants equally.” The FAA will only take action if those neighbors convince the airport manager or the city to harass the tenants of the airport (i.e. inserting hardships in lease, abnormal raising of rent).
Also discussed with Linda Bruce, what does the FAA do when tenants at the airport are being harassed by neighbors of the airport and specifically what does the FAA do if the harassment leads to implied or actual incidents of violence or vandalism? According to Linda Bruce, complaints of (or threats of) violence or vandalism towards airport uses or tenants are taken very seriously and those types of complaints would then be forwarded to the FBI.
The City of Longmont’s Airport Board meets approximately once a month and all meetings are open to the public, who are invited to speak at the beginning of each meeting. Additional open houses are planned during the Airport Master Plan process, to learn of when those are, click here.
(Article updated 10-10-11 to include link to airport noise complaint logs)
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