A Jefferson County judge ordered the City and County of Denver to pay Adams County more than $33 million for violations of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) regarding noise levels at Denver International Airport (DIA) during the years of 2014, 2015, and 2016. DIA was found in violation of 67 Class II noise exposure performance standards (NEPS) during the aforementioned years. NEPS are used to measure noise levels of aircraft flying over Adams County.
“We’re grateful to the Jefferson County judge for taking the necessary time to evaluate this complex case and return a judgement that delivers justice to Adams County,” said Board Chair Emma Pinter. “This is an agreement between Denver and Adams County and we both have an obligation to uphold this agreement.”
The IGA between the two entities allowed Denver to annex land within Adams County to build a new airport, in exchange for Denver’s agreement to monitor and strictly limit the noise exposure levels at DIA. If noise levels exceed the agreed upon limit, and are not remedied within the time allowed, Denver must make a noise mitigation payment for each violation.
“We are pleased with the decision that was made today, and feel it is fair and just,” said Commissioner Mary Hodge. “This has been a tough and unfortunate situation, but it was necessary to ensure quality of life for our residents.”
The IGA provides specific procedures and remedies to be followed and allows Adams County to bring legal action to enforce the NEPS, or may seek noise mitigation payments based upon the NEPS violations.
“While we never want to end up in court with a partner jurisdiction, this judgement validates concerns from Adams County residents.” said Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio.
The county filed the first legal complaint against the City and County of Denver in 1992 based on perceived violations of the IGA that could not be resolved. Subsequent complaints were filed over the years – all relating to noise level monitoring and violations.
“We’re disappointed that Denver wasn’t willing to solve this out of court,” said Commissioner Eva Henry. “We had hoped to partner with them to resolve this in a more amicable manner without having to take these steps.”
Given the recent nature of this decision, the county will take some time to assess how to best use these funds.
“We are thankful the Jefferson County judge upheld the IGA between Adams County and the City and County of Denver,” said Commissioner Chaz Tedesco. “This allows us to move ahead under the conditions of the current IGA.”
In addition, it was determined that Denver must report NEPS compliance based on the Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System (ANOMS) as long as the ANOMS remains as the only noise monitoring system installed at the airport, and Adams County may rely on the data measured by the ANOMS to determine compliance with the NEPS.