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Lone Tree pickleball courts cause ‘unbearable conditions’

DENVER (KDVR) — The city of Lone Tree is being sued over the noise caused by pickleball players on the courts at its recreation center, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Douglas County.

The lawsuit filed by five Lone Tree residents alleges the noise exceeds “all reasonable standards” and deprives them of “quiet use of their homes and outdoor spaces.” The lawsuit also alleges the city is refusing to close the courts.

“Meanwhile, the noise level rages every day as the pickleball hits the rackets every two seconds, up to over thirteen hours a day,” the lawsuit states. The group claims it has been calling for the courts to be closed for the past seven months.

Pickleball, a sport inspired by badminton and tennis, has grown in popularity in recent years and is popular among its players. Last year, groups competed for pickleball courts in Denver’s Congress Park and in Centennial, but new courts continue to pop up throughout the metropolitan area.

According to South Suburban Parks and Recreation, which includes the Lone Tree Recreation Center, the facility has six outdoor pickleball courts that are open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The facility also offers night lighting so pickleball players can play longer.

According to the lawsuit, neighbors of Lone Tree’s pickleball courts conducted a noise study to see how loud the game would be. The group said the noise level data was “indisputable” and that the courts produced noise that exceeded the allowable noise level by 10 to 15 decibels.

The lawsuit states that the average noise level from pickleball hits is 62.1 decibels, while the state’s noise ordinance requires noise levels of 50 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night.

Lawsuit: Pickleball noise “unacceptable” according to city ordinance

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an average noise limit of 85 decibels over an eight-hour day to prevent hearing loss. This is about the level at which one would have to speak loudly to be able to carry on a conversation. The agency also points out that devices that can produce noise levels above 85 decibels include lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners and power tools.

However, the group argues that the noise from the pickleball courts is “unreasonable noise.” The city ordinance defines noise as “any sound that annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensibility; or endangers or injures the safety or health of any person or animal; or endangers or injures personal or real property; and which is the subject of a complaint by any person.”

Two of the residents who filed the lawsuit argue in the complaint that they bought a home in the area because of “the sunset view from their patio,” but are unable to use it due to the “unbearable noise” from the courts. They also claim that they tried to fix the problem by “installing a fountain and speakers on their patio, sometimes even wearing headphones while outside.”

“None of these methods have worked,” the lawsuit continues. “The noise from the courtroom is so intrusive that (the couple) can hear it in their home.” One of the other residents who filed the lawsuit said the noise has interfered with his ability to work from home.

Ultimately, the group wants to close the pickleball courts and require Lone Tree not to reopen the courts unless they are relocated to a soundproof building. The group also wants to repay legal fees.

FOX31 has contacted the plaintiffs and the city of Lone Tree about this case. The city told FOX31 it does not comment on ongoing litigation.

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