Quelling an anti-airport jihad

Been enjoying some time offline and off the grid in the great outdoors, boy do we live in a great state.  But the frantic phone calls and emails worrying I’ve left the scene are a bit premature.  The latest is the ongoing ranting from our anti-airport expansion friends.  With the increasing noise, from them, you’d think that the airport has already expanded tenfold and noise levels are at near-DIA levels.  I’ll give them this much, they have the propaganda skills to ratchet things up incrementally to get casual observers possibly even believing them.  Unfortunately, for them, many of us pretty good BS detectors.

Enjoy this email they just sent out, but don’t leave if it bores you, there’s so much more.  (Bold type was in original email, red comments are mine)
Hello Friends and Neighbors,

I know some of you have been busy, yet on the sidelines cheering-on CARE for much of the effort to oppose the expansion of Vance Brand Airport’s runway, but the time has come to get you in the game. We need you to turn out for two important meetings this month. This email is long so please bear with me.

On Sept. 16th, the Airport Advisory Board (AAB) meets (6 pm, Public Works Maintenance Facility 375 Airport Rd) to vote on the Airport Master Plan (AMP) study (Scope of Work) which includes a runway expansion. Though these meetings can be tedious, it is very important for community members to show up, en masse, because Council takes direction from the AAB. Should the AAB feel enormous pressure from the community to recommend pulling runway expansion from the AMP study, they have the kind of influence Council will listen to. (I think most of council will have an issue with this statement)  Rare is it for Council NOT to consider the recommendations of the Airport Advisory Board. (During the last Master Plan Update, City Council did not accept the recommendation of a runway extension from the Airport Advisory Board, there goes that theory)

Furthermore, for those of you who live outside the City limits, in the “non-represented” area of the County, Chris Rodriguez (spelled right!) sits on the AAB. Mr. Rodriguez (again!) has not been shy, or modest, in his very public comments sharing his belief that, citizens living near the airport, but not within the City limits (who will without question bare (please, don’t “bare” anything – bear?) the brunt of consequences from an expanded runway) should NOT be held in equal weight to community members who live within the City limits, in matters related to the Airport Master Plan. (Just to be clear, it was one of their speakers who said non-Longmont residents should carry MORE weight than Longmont residents.  I don’t think so)  The AAB meeting is a perfect opportunity to make public YOUR opinion on this matter; both, in regards to Mr. Rodriquez’ (spelled wrong) sentiments AND runway expansion.

Finally, for those of you who reside in ward II (actual Longmont residents, that is), Councilwoman Katie Witt sits on the AAB. In Council, she will be the deciding vote (Council now sits at 3 opposed, and 4 in favor of runway expansion) (how do we know this?) on whether or not runway expansion is studied and included in the Airport Master Plan. Despite enormous public outpouring of opposition to runway expansion, Ms. Witt has defiantly (defiantly?  How do you know she hasn’t received enormous outpouring of public support for runway expansion?  Answer: you don’t) insisted on moving forward with runway expansion. Let me repeat. Ms. Witt has told her constituents, and the Longmont Community, she wants runway expansion to move forward. That is, to move forward in spite of her ward’s vocal opposition (small fringe element” to borrow a phrase from Sean McCoy) to expansion, without facts supporting expansion and in the face of overwhelming research that clearly demonstrates the negative and irreversible impacts of runway expansion on surrounding communities. There are dozens of studies conducted after airport expansions have taken place in various communities. All consistently show that promises of economic gain for the community were overblown, while negative impacts were understated.  We don’t want this to happen here.  (We Unincorporated Boulder County residents?  Just want to be clear.  Don’t pretend to speak for Longmont residents)

The Airport Advisory Board Meeting is one of the final opportunities to stop runway expansion, period.  (Not really, but if you think so, knock yourself out)

Conversely, should the AAB recommend moving forward WITH the runway expansion included in the Airport Master Plan study, it will be critical for the community to turn out for the subsequent, related Council meeting. (It worked so well last time.  A 6-1 vote against the anti-airport folks) Again, because it is rare for Council NOT to accept the recommendations of the AAB.  (Again, hogwash)

Sometime later this month, after the Airport Advisory Board Meeting, City Council will vote on whether to accept the Airport Master Plan study (AKA: Scope of Work) with or without the inclusion of runway expansion.  We don’t know the exact date yet, but it will be a Tuesday evening (at 7PM, Civic       Center, 350 Kimbark Street), as early as the 21st, and possibly the 28th. We will let you know when we do (the latest we will know about the meeting date will be on the Friday, preceding the following Tuesday meeting. So, you should have at least a 3 or 4 day lead time) – just wanted to put it on your radar.  (Radar – odd usage here, don’t you think?)

This Council vote will be the next to last opportunity to stop runway expansion. The FINAL vote, should our efforts at the AAB or pending Council meeting fail, being 9-12 months from now.

The current draft of the Airport Master Plan study/Scope of Work pays lip service to the importance of the public process, only allowing for one Public Hearing (NOT a Council meeting), plus two open house type meetings without an opportunity for members of the public to speak on the record.  This is another reason to take full advantage of every opportunity that does arise to express our facts AND emotions (mostly emotions and opinion) about health, community, pollution, children, wildlife, wetlands, open space, noise, property rights, economics, political process, quality of life, property values, livelihood, land use and really, democracy (really?) – all relating to you, your family and runway expansion.

I can’t impress upon you enough how emboldened the AAB and Council will feel to move forward with runway expansion, in the future, should the community NOT turn out now, for the upcoming AAB and Council meetings. CARE has been told the City is quite impressed by the numbers that have turned out in opposition to runway expansion, thus far (by who?  You’re sole vote on council Sean McCoy?). Let’s show ’em they haven’t seen anything yet. This will only happen if the Airport Advisory Board room and Council chambers are teaming with members of the public who oppose the airport runway expansion – City of Longmont and County residents alike.  So please, join us, turn out and bring friends, family, neighbors – bring everyone!  (The more uneducated and pliable the better!)

Although the runway expansion vote remains uncertain, one item remains clear: Right now, you still have a say in the fate of your community’s future.For updates, you can reach us at www.longmontairportcare.com.
Kindest Regards,
Jane Shellenberger/CARE
David Hignite
I thought some of you would find the following pretty interesting.  It looks like that document everyone signs as they’re closing on their homes who live in the Airport Influence ZoneEmphasis added by me.
Due to the proximity of the property to the Vance Brand Airport, there will be aircraft passing above the property.  Aircraft passage may result in noise and other impacts on the property.  Aircraft may cross above the property at low altitude in accordance with FAA regulations.  The frequency of aircraft passing over the property may increase in the futureThe owners, their heirs, successors and assigns, specifically acknowledge the right of passage over the property for aircraft and agree to hold harmless the City of Longmont for aircraft operations conducted in accordance with FAA regulations.
(To be signed by purchaser at time of contract and recorded with the closing documents)
The purchasers of the property described in Exhibit A (legal description of each dwelling) attached hereto acknowledge that due to the proximity of the property to the Vance Brand Airport, there will be aircraft passing above the property.  Aircraft passage may result in noise and other impacts on the property.  Aircraft may cross above the property at low altitude in accordance with FAA regulations.  The frequency of aircraft passing over the property may increase in the future.  The purchasers, their heirs, successors and assigns specifically acknowledge, pursuant to the plat note, the right of passage over the property for aircraft and agree to hold harmless the City of Longmont for aircraft operations conducted in accordance with FAA regulations.

Vance Brand Airport is located one-half mile north of Nelson Road and south of the St. Vrain River, between Airport Road and N. 75th Street.  Federal aviation regulations govern aircraft operations.  Airport rules and regulations, as now exist or later enacted or amended, are on file with the City of Longmont and specify the standards for operation of the facility.  The property is subject to State (C.R.S. §41-1-107) and City (L.M.C. 15.03.130) and federal laws regulating the use of the airspace above the property.  This Disclosure shall run with the land and applies to all heirs, successors and assigns of the purchasers so long as the Vance Brand Airport continues in operation.
That’s shockingly clear, but now CARE people are saying “so what if I signed that“, in essence.  Eh, what good are contracts anyway, right?  Well, in that case, maybe a lien-type of document should be attached to the property with all of the complaints.  If it’s really that unbearable, all future interested parties in said property really should be made aware of this.  As a recent speaker at City Council so wisely put it, “Complainers are exaggerators“.  I couldn’t have put it any better.
But wait, there’s more!   It seems some of these CARE people have recently purchased scanners to listen to the airport frequency.  Perfectly legal, have one myself.  What they’re doing with it is more interesting.  When the term “jumpers away” is broadcast by Mile-Hi Skydiving airplanes, the scanner monitor puts out a flash call to some predetermined list of people so they can call the Airport Manager and lodge a noise complaint.  Problem is, not everyone on that list is apparently a “friend of CARE“.

So, they don’t complain during the time the aircraft is climbing (that “droning” they constantly refer to), they manufacture feigned outrage when told to by their leaders (speaking of “drones“).  This story did not surprise me in the least, much of this is a sham.  I won’t say all of it as I know there are legitimate airport and airplane noise concerns.  But THIS is bordering on harassment of legitimate airport users.  Sort of reminds me of a farmer threatening to shoot a pilot for following the Noise Abatement Procedure…but I digress.
Lastly, there’s this from Marc Arnold of Rocky Mountain Jet – a new airport operator.

To the Longmont Airport Advisory Board
Attention is being drawn to the upcoming review of Longmont Airport’s Master Plan, mostly centered on perceived Cost versus Benefit.  I believe the interests of Longmont’s citizens can be advanced by a more reasoned review of the issues.  To that end, please see the attached document “A Reasonable Look at Vance Brand Issues”.  (Click on link to read/download.  This is at times blistering towards the anti-airport crowd, and spot on)

One aspect of the debate focuses on whether airport modernization will attract business development.  I offer our business venture as living proof that it will.  We previously based our aircraft at Denver Metro airport, but moved to Longmont because our analysis suggested Longmont’s citizens and businesses are underserved.  The airport infrastructure is currently substandard, but the prospect of modernization lured us here to be the first to establish a reputation for economical, safe, convenient, eco-friendly jet charter service.    Our choice to base at Vance Brand represents a sizeable bet on Longmont’s support for aviation related business development.

Rocky Mountain Jet, LLC, a Longmont business, owns an Eclipse Jet 500 now based at Vance Brand Airport.   North American Jet, a national jet charter service, operates this jet as the only jet charter service based at Vance Brand.  Judging from public response since opening for business August 22nd, local area demand for our service is strong.  We have another jet on order.  Together, these jets represent a private investment approaching $6 million.

Modernization of the airport infrastructure and possible lengthening of the runway is essential if we are to offer convenient year-round non-stop service to/from Vance Brand.   Without evidence the airport is well supported by the City of Longmont, we will be forced to move our operations to another airport.  This will deprive the people and businesses of Longmont from the transportation service we offer, let alone the direct economic benefits from maintenance, storage and operations at the field.

I hope the attached information is useful in your deliberations concerning recommendations to the Longmont City Council.

Respectfully submitted,
Marc Arnold
Rocky Mountain Jet

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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