‘Freedom Of Information’ Request On Jeffco Noise Testing Denied By Town


Brad Walker is frustrated, but resolute. A long-time GA pilot based at Jefferson County, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (aka “Jeffco”), he has filed multiple requests under the Colorado Open Records Act (similar to the Freedom of Information Act) to obtain information related to legal action by area residents against the airport. Walker’s findings include eye-opening results of lead-pollution tests commissioned by the town of Superior, Colorado, and previously reported by AVweb.

But his requests for information on concurrent noise studies commissioned by the town of Superior, as were the lead studies, were denied in a March 1 letter, because “the records and associated communications are subject to attorney-client privilege.” Walker told AVweb he has heard from inside sources that the results of the noise studies are not favorable for the plaintiffs in neighboring homeowners’ lawsuits filed against the airport sponsor, Jefferson County.

“I don’t understand why they were able to release the lead studies but not the noise studies,” Walker told AVweb. “I can’t see any difference between the two circumstances.” He added that he believed the denial was related to the reporting by AVweb.

Through the CORA process, Walker previously secured copies of communications regarding Superior’s legal representation for noise and lead emissions issues last year. The town received letters of engagement from two law firms in September and December. The second letter, signed by attorney Andrew Barr of the firm Greenberg Traurig, was addressed to Superior Mayor Mark Lacis. The letter indicates the firm had been engaged to represent the town. “Thank you for agreeing to engage Greenberg Traurig, LLP as your attorneys … Our representation of you and this engagement will include advice and litigation related to issues stemming from aircraft operations to and from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.”

Barr told AVweb he was not aware of the CORA request denial and said he “was not the right person to be asking.”

An email AVweb sent to Mark Lacis, the mayor of Superior, elicited a response from Kendra Carberry, Esq., who identified herself as the Superior Town Attorney: “The Town has no comment concerning its response to any of Mr. Walker’s numerous CORA requests.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. It’s probably the same 3 people sending in thousands of complaints. That’s why they can’t release it.

    • If that’s the case (“thousands of complaints”) then it sounds like the complainers are louder than the planes.

      • So, there was this person living next to a level 4 airport where I had a flight school. Let’s just say, she wasn’t a huge fan of the daily symphony of airplane engines. Every day, like clockwork, she’d grace us with a call, expressing her… unique appreciation for the sound. Now, we’re all about customer service, but even we have our limits. So, with a heavy heart we politely suggested she contact the control tower. Don’t ask me how she got the number, but let’s just say, our calls stopped. Problem solved!

        • The realtor that did not disclose that the house is near an airport should be called and sued. Many states require the home buyer sign a document acknowledging the noise and air quality status.

          • If home buyers cannot read Google maps, it’s their own fault! Hell, an airport is preferable to being near a train crossing, a smelting facility, or a half-way house for felons.

    • I think exactly the same as You, Mr. Arthur J Foyt in concern of being the same persons that have sent the thousands of complaints.

  2. Relative worked for a regional airline decades ago, and handled noise complaints. Very awkward when they kept coming in at one of their biggest problem airports, at the usual time, on a day the flight had been cancelled.

  3. Presumably, the results of the sound testing are known also to the testing agency as well as the city and their attorneys – and likely the original complainants as well. In that case, in FOIA cases, attorney-client privilege cannot be used to deny a request. There is federal precedent for this:

    An ill-conceived line of FOIA cases emanating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has caused considerable confusion as to whether the attorney-client privilege protects an attorney-client communication where the specifics of the communication are confidential but the underlying subject matter is known to an outside third party. In Mead Data, the first of these cases, the D.C. Circuit held that communications between the Air Force and its legal counsel concerning negotiation offers made by and received from a litigation opponent were not protected by the attorney-client privilege because the substance of the offers was of course also known by the opponent. See 566 F.2d at 255.

  4. “[T]he records and associated communications are subject to attorney-client privilege.” This excuse is precisely why FOIA laws exist. But it’s Colorado, the new California, so don’t expect any help from state courts.

  5. What I hate is when a-holes make me have to act like an a-hole in defense. Yes, that usually starts with someone engaging lawyers, but until then there is usually a chance of an inexpensive resolution through education, negotiation, and compromise. But when there are large sums of money at stake for someone …

  6. When noise concerns were brought up at KTPF in Tampa, FL:

    “Sound tests conducted by the Aviation Authority showed an increase of 3 dB or less over current usage at the closest residences, or an average of about 58 dB during run ups to take off. During the same tests, nearby lawn mowers, motorcycles, and automobiles frequently reached over 75 dB.”

  7. Noise complaints are always a thorny issue to deal with. Unlike air sample testing where there are formal standards against which the samples can be compared, noise is more of a perceptual issue. Even though there are recognized noise level limits that can apply, the frequency and other factors of the sound can make it seem more irritating to the listener. Years ago, when computer printers first appeared in offices, I was involved in doing noise testing of the devices. Office workers complained about the “noisy” printers, which were often about the same sound level as the electric typewriters and other office equipment (phones, etc.). The printers ran at a higher frequency and had a rapid staccato sound that was different and more irritating to the workers. The client ended up placing the printers in sound enclosures to make everyone happy. I live about two miles from the airport where my plane is housed, and landing aircraft often fly overhead. We also hear sound from the nearby freeway, but it is a constant din, whereas the plane is distinct and easy to identify, so the neighbors complain about the plane noise and ignore the freeway. In the case of the Jeffco litigation, the actual sound levels from the airport are not likely any worse than the highway and lawnmower din, but the complainants perceive it as louder and more irritating, and no noise sampling results are going to change their minds.

  8. Decades ago, I was working as an ATC staff specialist at our towered airport. One older lady kept calling and complaining about planes overhead. I had our manager bring her and her daughter to the tower, gave them a nice tour including functionality of every position, and we sat down at the conference table. I had a road map of the area and had overlaid the appropriate IFR approaches for the runway involved. I used the approach plate and explained where the pilots had to be, laterally and vertically on the approach, and related the FAF to her home. Once she understood the why and the safety need, she never called and complained again.
    I dealt with a lot of noise complaints as an ATC supervisor and acting manager and was almost always able to placate the caller, either immediately or after reviewing the radar replay. Patience and education works, or at least it used to.

  9. And I’m, as well in a totally agree with You, Mr. Arthur J Foyt, when You said that an house close to a train crossing gets much more noise than near an airport. If people went to such a neighborhood like an airport, that already was in that location before the time they moved, they only have to ways: move for another location or hang on with the noise. Period!

    • Yea, airports are nothing when compared a train horn going off behind your house at the crossing at 3am. You move or put up with it as being necessary noise.

  10. A local airport manager had a way of dealing with noise complaints. Complainer would be invited into his office and treated like royalty, coffee, tea, cake etc. Following discussion the complainer would be taken to a very large framed aerial survey photograph of the airport on the wall and asked to point out his house. Photo was of WWII era, airport surrounded by farmland, not the present day development up to the airport fence.