The Mile-Hi Skydiving Center lands a fineBy Christopher Anderson on 2001-04-10
The business was fined $500 and ordered to pay $138 in court costs Monday after the company's attorney entered a guilty plea to a third-degree trespassing charge, a misdemeanor.
The plea avoids a trial scheduled to begin today.
In August, the company's president Jeffrey Sands, 37, landed his helicopter on a farm to retrieve a cut-away parachute that fell on to the property at 7457 St. Vrain Road, according to a sheriff's report.
A drop zone staff member got out of the helicopter and told a woman who rents horses on adjacent property that he was retrieving the drop zone's parachute. William Jones, 70, whose wife owns the farm, called the Boulder County Sheriff's Office to file a trespassing complaint.
Jones said Monday all he really wanted was a letter from the district attorney or sheriff's office telling Sands to stay off the property.
"A lot of the neighbors have had problems with the skydivers," Jones said. "In the past he (Sands) has had no respect about going on to people's property."
Jones said he was unsure if Sands received a letter but that "he was told if he comes on the property again, it will cost him some more money."
Deputy District Attorney Ken Kupfner said he specifically requested that the misdemeanor charge name Sands' business in hopes that Sands and his employees will be more accountable for their future actions.
Sands said he does his best to be sensitive to the community. To avoid problems, he said his company — operated out of Vance Brand Airport since 1995 — stopped using detachable rip cords in 1998. The company airplane flies double the 800-foot requirement and reduces the propeller's rpm when flying low to avoid noise complaints.
He said the company policy is for a land crew to seek permission from property owners before retrieving items that inadvertently fall on private lands.
"I want to be a good neighbor," Sands said.
He called the August incident of landing a helicopter on private property "a fluke situation" because the woman the staff member got into an argument with had complained about noise before and threatened to steal and damage the next parachute she found.
He also said that he thought he landed on Boulder County open space land and did not intentionally land on Jones' private property.
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