Thirty-eight residents of a subdivision -- adjacent to an industrial area -- at the end of the Payson Municipal Airport, have filed a lawsuit against a nearby cabinet door manufacturing facility.
This legal action follows three years of conflict between Jim Hill, owner of The Door Stop and the denizens of Mazatzal Mountain Airpark and Sky Park Estates.
The lawsuit filed in early April claims three civil actions against The Door Stop: Private nuisance, negligence and injunctive relief.
"We've been trying to get (Hill) to settle for 29 months," said Dennis Romain, the lanky, retired wheat farmer who lives across the street from The Door Stop. "All we want him to do is fix the noise."
Hill said he has spent more than $100,000 on retrofits, mufflers and state-of-the-art equipment to alleviate noise and dust emissions since the complaints started in November 2003, soon after The Door Stop, originally based in Chandler, moved into the neighborhood.
"When (the neighbors) came in to complain," Hill said. "We made concessions."
Hill experimented with a sound-blocking wall at a cost of $2,400, installed $28,000 worth of new, quieter dust collectors, and spent thousands of dollars on attorneys' fees, a noise consultant and other sound-reducing equipment, according to a statement released by Hill.
The subsequent noise declined by 30 percent, Hill said.
"All noise that originates (in the area) isn't necessarily from The Door Stop," he added. "When an airplane goes over you need hearing protection."
Industrial acoustics from The Door Stop, mixed with environmental sounds from airplanes, nearby Waste Management trucks and even wind, amplify the noise.
Though many of the litigants declined to comment or go on the record, Gordon Holms and Dennis Romain -- both plaintiffs -- said Hill's improvements have done little to abate the noise.
"It hasn't changed since day one," said Holms. "We heard lots of stories. He's going to tell you he spent $100,000 to fix the equipment. We asked for the receipts. Then, why isn't it quieter?"
Holms said he lives three-quarters of a mile away and above The Door Stop.
Though the dust collectors on the north and south sides of the building aren't as bothersome to him, the blower on top of the 30,000-square foot building is.
"The sound really travels," Holms added.
Romain's home sits across the street from The Door Stop. His second-floor bedroom faces the business to the south, about 150 yards away, according to his estimation.
From this room, standing 5 feet away from an open window, the hum of The Door Stop's equipment -- tested with a decibel meter by the Roundup -- registers approximately 57 decibels (dB), 48 inside the bedroom with closed windows.
"I can live with the noise as long as I'm in the house," Romain said. "But when I'm in the yard, it's loud."
In a neighborhood where planes fly overhead and houses sit on streets where Cessnas and Pipers taxi to in-house hangars, loud noises are everywhere.
Romain and the plaintiffs accept this. To live in the airpark subdivisions most of the residents signed aviation agreements, which releases the town, the airport or other entities from being sued for aviation noise.
Meanwhile, Romain said he and the other plaintiffs have nothing against Hill or The Door Stop, and at this time, seek no punitive damages.
But the negative impact on property value, and the low-grade whir in his house from early in the morning to midnight some evenings, he said, has to stop.
Hill said he will neither move his business nor back down from the lawsuit, but he added, he seeks to resolve the issue with an agreement with his neighbors.
"(The Door Stop) would like to be able to get along," Hill said. "This is time consuming."
38 plaintiffs named in a lawsuit against The Door Stop:
Richard and Cheryl Dolby
Arthur and Donna Fischer
Rory and Donna Hansen
Gordon and Carol Holm
David and Delores Hvidsten
Dennis and Barbara Parish
Daniel and Bonita Peace
Dennis and Diana Pribbenow
Randall and Kerri Thompson
Robert and Mary Walker
Eric and Nancy Ward
Mike and Mandy Young
Ned and Barbara Hines