North Whitehall denies special exception for heliport on private property
The board that oversees zoning decisions in North Whitehall Township heard withering opposition to a controversial proposal to allow a private airport less than 1,000 feet from a dwelling from several township residents Thursday night.
And after more than two hours of testimony and closing attorney arguments, the two-member body voted unanimously to deny a special exception request to property owner Michael Selig on his private property located at 5471 Route 309. Although Selig met some provisions of the township's zoning ordinance, the board ruled Selig failed to adequately meet other requirements in the code, principle among them, that the application "did not meet the definition of a private airport" as Selig had planned to use his helicopter for financial consideration involving members of the public, according to testimony he had made at previous hearings .
Selig, a cardiologist and licensed helicopter pilot, had waited months for the decision as several hearings were required to accommodate the fierce resistance from some township residents. Thursday night did not change that trend.
"He (Selig) says his helicopter will not make any noise, I dispute that," said township resident Ronald Roth. "I don't care what Mr. Selig says."
"I truly believe the doctor does not care about our community," said another township resident, Anita LePage.
"It's going to lower the value of the homes in the area," added Linda Hausmann, who testifed that she owned 260 acres of farmland adjacent to Selig's property.
"If you approve this you will set a dangerous precedent," noted Howard Paul, yet another resident who spoke out against the special exception.
The lively disapproval of the plan continued, unabated, until everyone had an opportunity to speak. Selig, for the most part, sat impassively, often looking straight ahead with his back to the objectors.
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