Court of Appeals Upholds Judgement Against the City and County of Denver for Violations of Intergovernmental Agreement

The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld a judgement Thursday, March 3, against the City and County of Denver for violations of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) concerning Denver International Airport (DEN).

In June 2020, a Jefferson County judge ordered the City and County of Denver to pay Adams County more than $33 million for violations of an IGA regarding noise levels at DEN during the years of 2014, 2015, and 2016. DEN 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.

In 2020, the City and County of Denver appealed the decision. Thursday, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld that judgement.

“We are pleased with the outcome of this appeal process,” said Lynn Baca, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “We had hoped all along this could be resolved amicably without having to go to court against a partner agency, but it’s important to pursue this issue on behalf of our residents who have dealt with the noise issues far too long.”

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 DEN. 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.

The IGA provides specific procedures and remedies to be followed and allows Adams County to bring legal action to enforce the NEPS, or seek noise mitigation payments based upon the NEPS violations.

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.

Given the recent nature of this decision, the county will take some time to assess how to best use these funds.