Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Jersey approves plan for Jets' helipad

FLORHAM PARK--The New York Jets Flight Crew will soon include more than the NFL team's cheerleading squad.

Despite opposition from local residents, the state Department of Transportation without any public hearings has okayed a request by the Jets to use helicopters to airlift executives and players in and out of the NFL team's suburban training facility, despite its proximity to Morristown Airport.

The state gave clearance for the construction of a helipad, or so-called "helistop" at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park--which is just a few minutes' drive to the nearby airport.

DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro said the department issued a letter last week approving the project.

"Once the facility is completed it will undergo a final inspection. Upon passing that inspection, a license to operate the facility will be issued," he said.

The Jets declined comment and would not say when construction might get underway.

It took quite some time, but Donald Trump has officially named Woody Johnson the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The team has been seeking a landing zone at the training facility since 2013, when it first went to the Florham Park planning. But the application was soon put on hold amid community opposition over concerns about the noise from low-flying helicopters and the possibility of an accident.

In March, the Jets re-filed the request directly with the state Bureau of Aeronautics, arguing that they were exempt from all local zoning and approvals because the training center property is owned by the N.J. Sports and Exposition Authority, a state agency, according to the filing.

The filing by Florham Park Development LLC, which is associated with the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, said in its filing that the helipad would not be open for public use. Equipped for day and night operations, it was expected to accommodate takeoffs and landings several times during the week during the summer months.

The landing pad would be used "for transport of executives of the training center and injured athletes," according to the state filing.

The request had been opposed by residents in Madison, which opposed the initial application and lodged new objections to the Jets' request in a separate filing with the state. Officials also declined comment, but said in their response that the granting of a license would be contrary to local land use ordinances and the sentiments of residents.

Noting the close proximity of Morristown Airport, they questioned the need and safety as well.

"There is clearly no demand for the proposed helistop from an air operational standpoint, and any purported public benefit from the availability of a helistop for emergency uses is illusive," they wrote to the state.

But following a 30-day public comment period, the DOT approved the Jets' request. Schapiro said a public hearing had not been required.


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