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The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners (Board) recently sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outlining objections to the agency’s final plan to reroute airplane traffic throughout the region. The proposal would affect all Denver metro area airports, and its impact on Centennial Airport and its surrounding residents is the focus of the commissioners’ concerns.
Commissioners Nancy Sharpe, Jeff Baker and Bill Holen all represent the County on the Centennial Airport Authority Board of Directors, while Commissioner Kathleen Conti is a member of the Centennial Airport Noise Roundtable. The Board’s letter lists numerous ways in which the FAA’s environmental assessment of the plan comes up short by failing to “protect residential health and welfare, ensuring the burdens of implementation will far outweigh the benefits.”
The commissioners added that the FAA has ignored longstanding environmental laws and failed to demonstrate “the cumulative impacts of the proposed [Metroplex plan], despite knowing and having documented the annual increases in flight operations in and out of metropolitan Denver.” The letter also noted that other communities that have already gone through the Metroplex process have lodged similar complaints. At least one community has already sued the FAA over increased jet noise above residential areas.
The Board contends that the FAA has not appropriately evaluated such noise and potential health effects of the new routes, which has resulted in “specific concerns with proposed arrival procedure changes that will have a negative impact on Centennial Airport—the second busiest general aviation airport in the nation—as well as on the 13 cities and towns within Arapahoe County.”
Although the Board supports the broader goal of modernizing aviation operations while maintaining established and appropriate safety standards, the commissioners believe the current proposal “will cause significant environmental impacts on the community, cultural and natural resources, and [will] negatively impact the quality of the human environment.”
The letter concludes by requesting that the FAA conduct a more comprehensive Environmental Impact Study of this project before issuing any final decisions about it, because “a more thoughtful and thorough approach will balance the needs of the FAA and its affected communities, achieving our shared goals of safety, efficiency, and maintaining a high quality of life.”
The Board is awaiting a final decision from the FAA in regards to next steps and has shared these positions with Colorado’s federal and state delegations.