By Julie Stagis, Hartford Courant
WEST HARTFORD – The town is considering an ordinance that will allow private heliports to be built on certain properties after a request from millionaire businessman and philanthropist Arnold Chase.
According to town officials, Chase would like to build a helicopter landing area at the property of his mega-mansion atop Avon Mountain to accommodate certain guests for fundraisers held there.
At Monday’s meeting of the town council’s community planning committee, Deputy Corporation Counsel Pat Alair said Chase held an event for CPTV and a certain celebrity would only come if he or she could be flown in. Without a heliport, the person didn’t come.
The proposed ordinance – which will likely go before the town council in January – says heliports must meet Federat Aviation Administration requirements for “Prior Permission Required” heliports, also known as “restricted landing” heliports, and be approved by the Connecticut Airport Authority.
Properties where heliports would be allowed under the ordinance must be large enough to have at least a 150-foot buffer between the “outer boundary of the safety area surrounding the touchdown and liftoff area” and the nearest property line, according to the draft ordinance.
Alair identified several properties in town that would be large enough; most are town-owned lots including schools and parks and Metropolitan District Commission property.
“There aren’t that many in town that can accommodate one,” Alair said, “which is probably a good thing.”
Public hearings would be held when anyone applied for a special use permit to build a heliport. Chase would give access codes to emergency officials so the heliport could be used for LifeStar and other emergency vehicles, Alair said.
Committee chairman Leon Davidoff asked whether there was any downside.
“Noisy helicopters landing on people’s property from time to time,” Alair said. Though noise levels depend on the model of helicopter, “they’re just plain loud. Our noise ordinances do not regulate motor vehicle noise …Traditional ground motor vehicle noise is regulated by the state; aircraft noise I don’t think is regulated by anybody.”
The committee asked Alair to look into what abutting properties should be notified in advance of a hearing on the topic. Typically, the town notifies abutters within 500 feet, but since properties around Chase’s are so large, they may want to cast a larger net.
The proposed ordinance limits take-offs and landings to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and says lights associated with operation “shall be lit only for so long as is reasonably necessary to permit the pilot to locate the heliport and complete the landing and/or take-off operations.”