By Libby James
North Forty News
As a result from a North Forty News article in July 2018, North Forty News received phone calls from people hoping to share information about Orange Skies Skydiving Center.
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Residents in the vicinity of Orange Skies Skydiving Center east of I-25 on County Road 54 between Fort Collins and Wellington sent a letter to Larimer County in February expressing their concerns before the business opened. They worried that the enterprise was located in an unsuitable area and would cause distracting noise and activity, degrading the lifestyle of those living nearby.
County planner Rob Helmick saw to it that Orange Skies underwent a sketch plan review which involved receiving comments from anyone interested. Following the review, Orange Skies owner Mike Bohn was given permission to operate his skydiving operation during the time period when he was making application to pursue a special review. The review was required in order to change the use of the airfield on which he was operating. A skydiving operation would intensify as well as change the use of the airfield. It was originally built in 1973 when such requirements were not in place. It had been used as a base for crop dusters.
Bohn was given a May 14 deadline to submit his enterprise for special review. He failed to meet the deadline. At an administrative matters meeting on May 15, the county authorized legal action based on Bohn’s failure to comply and on an outcry from neighbors according to Karin Madson, code compliance supervisor for Larimer County.
At the date of this writing in July, Orange Skies continues to operate despite the concern of neighbors. Larimer County is currently pursuing legal action to force Orange Skies to quit operating according to Madson.
One-hundred and twenty letters from residents, business and property owners expressing concerns ranging from noise, property devaluation, quality of life, wildlife/environmental issues, trespassing and safety are available to view as part of the public record at the Larimer County website or the County Commissioners email website.
The North Forty News July 2018 article failed to mention the strong objections of those living in the vicinity. One neighbor counted 21 noisy flights in less than a day. Another noted that the drop zone was too narrow and that a diver had landed on nearby Mountain Vista Golf Course. Others noted that flights began as early as 6 a.m. and continued until dusk explaining that it was impossible for them to enjoy themselves in their own backyards.
Bohn explains that several of his close-by neighbors are supportive of his operation. He fears that county officials are being pressured by disgruntled neighbors who want to see Orange Skies close.
“If the hours were shorter and flights less frequent, we might not be so upset,” one neighbor shared. Another mentioned the likely devaluation of property. “In the end, I think the area is just too populated to accommodate a skydiving operation. A wind could blow divers onto I-25. It isn’t safe for them and it is not compatible with the area,” said another neighbor who wished to remain anonymous.