Lone Tree residents sue city over noise from pickleball courts

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Katherine Gaston, front, plays pickleball with her husband Geoff at Smoky Hill Metropolitan District Court in Centennial on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. (Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Five Lone Tree residents are suing the city over the noise from a nearby recreation center’s pickleball courts. 

The residents — Mark Goodman, Richard Campbell, Donna Campbell, William Fornia and Matthew Troyer — filed a lawsuit Thursday, saying the courts at the Lone Tree Recreation Center disrupt neighbors’ “quiet enjoyment of their homes and outdoor spaces.”

The residents are asking the Douglas County District Court to order the city and district to shut down the courts until they construct a “soundproof structure” around them.

“(The filing residents) bring this suit to protect a public good, namely, the ability of Plaintiffs and other residents of the Community to enjoy the quiet use of their homes and avoid negative health impacts caused by unreasonable exposure to noise,” the suit reads. “(The city and recreation district) are causing a continuing public nuisance by permitting and encouraging activity on the Courts resulting in the noise nuisance.” 

The city and South Suburban Parks and Recreation District declined to comment on the litigation.

The residents, who live across the street from the recreation center in the Montecito at RidgeGate community, said in the suit that they purchased their single-family homes — which Zillow estimates are worth about $1.5 million — in part due to their backyards. 

The plaintiffs said those backyards have since been ruined by the staccato popping sound of a pickleball being batted back and forth, as often as every two seconds up to 13 hours a day.

The residents said they’ve conducted sound studies that found the noise has hit 62.1 decibels. State law allows for noise up to 55 decibels between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and 50 decibels after hours, in residential areas, with a lower maximum for “shrill” noises, which the plaintiffs believe the pickleball hits qualify as. 

According to the suit, the five plaintiffs and 21 other residents previously sent a letter requesting that the city and recreation district close the pickleball courts until they installed something to mitigate the noise. 

Lone Tree Recreation Center, located at 10249 RidgeGate Circle, opened its six outdoor pickleball courts a year ago. 

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports nationwide, but the popping sound caused by the hard plastic balls hitting the carbon fiber paddles has led people to start petitions, call police and file lawsuits. The complaints surmounted enough to where a national conference for noise control professionals dedicated an opening session to pickleball’s noise last year. 

Colorado has seen its fair share of pickleball-related noise complaints and municipal government action. Centennial issued a six-month moratorium on pickleball court construction in March 2023, lifting it in September and passing new regulations forbidding construction of permanent courts within 250 feet of a home’s property. The city now requires permits for permanent court construction between 250 and 600 feet of a home and the sound of play cannot exceed 47 decibels. 

Denver removed courts in Congress and Eisenhower parks last year due to complaints about noise and player actions. 

Along with Lone Tree Recreation Center, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District has outdoor pickleball courts at Cornerstone Park in Littleton and indoor courts at SSIA Pickleball in Centennial. 

The residents are represented by Tessa Carberry of Husch Blackwell. Carberry and the residents declined to comment.

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