DIA files complaint against city of Aurora

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DENVER — Denver International Airport has filed a complaint in the District Court against the city of Aurora on Friday.

DIA says they are bringing this action to prohibit the development of single-family homes just half a mile away from their next planned runway.

The Aurora City Council recently approved a change in Aurora’s Comprehensive Plan that would allow single-family detached housing, even though Aurora’s own planning commission recommended the change be denied.

DIA says they have worked  with Aurora and the developer for months on this issue without success and believes the development — also known as High Point — will negatively impact the airport, stating that they want to ensure DIA remains “the thriving economic engine for the region for generations to come.”

The location of the development would also be in an area with noise exposure, DIA says. By continuing to limit development near the airport, DIA believes residents will not be negatively impacted by noise.

The airport said that the Aurora City Council did not follow its own criteria in amending Aurora’s Comprehensive Plan, stating that in order for the change to be permitted it has to promote “the long term economic, social, and environmental health of the City and protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Aurora.”

On Friday, the city of Aurora told FOX31 that it has not had a chance to review the complaint. On Wednesday, Aurora City Attorney Dan Brotzman responded to the lawsuit.

He said the city has worked with Denver, DIA, Adams County and other neighboring municipalities “to establish a vision for development around the airport that would be beneficial to the entire region.”

Brotzman said that in 2005, Aurora, Denver and DIA entered a joint agreement about the High Point development.

“The City Council’s recent approval of an amendment to this master plan continues to maintain single-family housing outside of the noise contours outlined in past agreements. This amendment actually reduced the amount of land available for residential development from 400 acres to about 180 acres, including removal of 200 acres of potential residential development east of E-470 and directly south of the airport. The Aurora City Council’s decision to approve the rezoning application was sound and well-reasoned,” Brotzman said.

Additionally, Brotzman said Aurora and other metro-area communities have filed suits against DIA for noise violations. He says a 1988 agreement requires Denver to install noise-monitoring equipment and fix violations. For each violation not fixed, the city must pay $500,000.

“In 2005, Denver paid $26,500,000 to Adams County and cities for violations of these noise provisions. Even after that lawsuit and settlement Denver failed to install adequate monitoring equipment and did not remedy violations. The current lawsuit identifies 67 violations of which 24 were in Aurora,” Brotzman said.

Brotzman said his office is working on a response to the DIA’s appeal related to the High Point rezoning.

“Ultimately, we believe it’s critical for us to continue to work together to fulfill the vision that was created so many years ago,” Brotzman said.

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