Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rockport uses zoning to clamp down on helicopter landings

ROCKPORT — Slapped with a violation and fine for landing his helicopter near the coastline off 129 Granite St., property owner Ron Roma said he has no plans as of yet to fight the town's zoning provision that led to the demand for a $300 fine.

The official violation, sent on Nov. 24, stated that "the use of this property for the landing of a helicopter is a violation of Section III.B. of the Town of Rockport Zoning Bylaws."

A scan of the most recently updated zoning bylaws contains no mention of helicopters, but Building Inspector Paul Orlando said that's the catch.

“It doesn’t mention helicopters at all, and that’s the issue,” said Orlando of the permitted uses and structures section of the bylaws. In response to a question of the existing Poole's heliport, Orlando noted that he doesn't think anyone lands there anymore.

Additionally, since the heliport was established in 1992, he said a look into that year's bylaws would be necessary to determine whether it would be grandfathered in.

The agenda for the Board of Selectmen meeting set for Tuesday night at 6:30 at Town Hall does not explicitly state that the issue will be discussed. However, Item J — which is allotted for "other business" — leaves room for a resident or two to speak their mind, and Town Administrator Linda Sanders said that anyone might bring up the helicopter landing during that time.

Jane Montecalvo of Granite Street said a group of concerned residents is volunteering one speaker to make their case, and they may press for enforcement of the recent zoning violation.

Roma said that, when the FAA went to conduct a safety evaluation, the federal agency asked the town if there was any bylaw against helicopters, and the answer was no.

FAA findings

The FAA had issued two previous recommendation noting that any helicopter landings or takeoffs at Roma's property at 121 Granite St. — the so-called Brick House — would pose a safety hazard.

But in a March 22, 2013, recommendation, the FAA indicated that the new home construction site at 129 Granite — the property Roma has now used for helicopter landings — would pose no safety hazards, as long as Roma met a number of conditions.

"We have determined that the proposed private use landing area, will not adversely affect the safe and efficient use of the navigable airspace by aircraft," the FAA wrote, "provided (that) all operations are conducted in VFR weather conditions; the landing area is limited to private use; the takeoff/landing area is appropriately marked (and there is ) one direction for ingress and egress — from the East."

A neighbor's photograph showing Roma's helicopter at the site on Nov. 14 clearly shows the aircraft between the house and the coastline, and Roma has said he only enters and exits the property with a helicopter by flying over the water.

Others feel otherwise

Greg Blaha, a Granite Street resident, wrote in a letter to the Times (Opinion page, Friday, Dec. 12) that "the town has already stated that a heliport is not allowed at 129 Granite St. under current zoning, and this is stated in a letter from the building inspector on 5/22/12. The town issued Mr. Roma a zoning violation on 11/24/14."

Orlando showed the Gloucester Times the official violation, and Roma confirmed that he received the notice.

Orlando also noted that Roma would be subject to fines of up to $300 per day for landing, and was unsure if Roma may yet take the matter to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Source:  http://www.gloucestertimes.com

No comments:

Post a Comment