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Friday, June 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Fire Dept. Wins Fight Over New Heliport

PUBLIC SERVICE/MEDICAL

A Pennsylvania fire department has won a court fight over its ability to build a heliport for medevac flights.

A judge in Schuylkill County, Pa. ruled in mid-April that the county zoning hearing board adhered to procedures in approving Good Will Fire Co. No. 1’s request to build a heliport on unoccupied property owned by Reading Anthracite Co. and Schuylkill Reclamation Co. in Primrose, Pa. The zoning ruling last September had been challenged by Cass Township, Pa., in which Primrose lies.

Fire department officials said they plan to lease the heliport to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, which would use it for at least three flights a day to its facility, Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, or Lehigh Valley Hospital in the Allentown area. Geisinger Life Flight would serve the area with a Eurocopter BK117.

County residents have been opposed to the heliport, citing concerns over noise pollution and a danger to the environment. Community opposition and a fear of "helicopters falling out of the sky" kept the issue in court. The judge ruled that the site selected is within a district that allows exemptions for helicopter operations. He also ruled those operations would be in character with the surrounding area.

The heliport would be 10 min closer to Geisinger than the current site.

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