The North Whitehall Zoning Hearing Board recently denied a special exception request made by Dr. Michael Selig, who wanted to build a heliport on his property at 5471 Route 309 in Schnecksville.
According to Township Manager Jeff Bartlett the zoning hearing board had a number of issues with Dr. Selig's request. In the end, however, they denied his request because he altered his original plans and that, they argued, nullified the FAA's original approval.
Bartlett said Selig's plan originally included a runway and it had approval from the FAA. When Selig removed the runway from his request during the recent hearing process, zoning hearing board officials say it invalidated the FAA approval because it did not approve a plan with a heliport alone.
"Their argument was the approval letter didn’t reference that it's just okay for a helicopter and since he wasn’t asking for the runway anymore he would need a new approval," Barlett said.
Bartlett didn't want to comment on the zoners' opinion and said it is now up to Selig to appeal or not.
The decision was made after months of public debate where residents argued against Selig's proposal but Bartlett said public sentiment wasn't listed in the zoning hearing board reasons for denial.
When a resident approached North Whitehall Supervisors at their meeting last week to ask for an ordinance to ban airport/heliports, Supervisor Steve Pany said he doesn't think there are areas of North Whitehall that could support a plan like Selig's which would make an ordinance unnecessary. He did say, however, he would discuss it with supervisors.
"The argument that we don’t need to ban them because there are no other locations, well, there are plenty of them - it’s a matter of if there’s anyone in that area to complain," Bartlett said.