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Tue, Apr 19, 2016

Drop Zone Fees At Vance Brand Airport Scrutinized

Latest Twist In Citizen's Group's Feud With Mile-Hi Skydiving

The city staff in Longmont, CO has investigated an agreement between Mile-Hi Skydiving and the city that allowed the company to improve and maintain the drop zone in lieu of fees for its use.

But the agreement was apparently never put in writing, according to a report from the Times-Call newspaper. The fees, which started at $7,500, were supposed to be increased annually based on the CPI.

A summary of interviews with Mile-Hi owner Frank Casares, former city manager Gordon Pedrow, former city staff member Don Bessler, and former airport manager Tim Barth indicates that a verbal agreement was made around 2009, and the company "filled in the ditches, removed the barb wire fences throughout (the drop zone property, graded it, seeded it, and mowed it. There was never any cost to the city for any of that maintenance. It was deemed by staff at the time to waive the fee in lieu of that maintenance if MHSC maintained it since it would cost the city more than the annual fee," according to Casares. Bessler said he did not know about the waiver of the fee, or he would have asked Barth to "put it in writing."

The investigation stemmed from public comments made during a city council meeting by Kimberly Gibbs, who heads a grassroots organization that has tried ... so far unsuccessfully ... to have the company shut down or alter its flight paths due to what they say is excessive noise from the skydiving operation over their neighborhood. 

Billing hours for the mowing were also called into question.

Current airport manager David Slater said in his report that the agreement would not be continued.

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