Helicopter question will hover for six months
The question of the status of helicopter landing sites will now hover over the Snyderville Basin for at least the next six months.
The Summit County Council this week made a temporary move banning someone from developing a landing site. The prohibition lasts six months, enough time, apparently, for the County Courthouse to craft new regulations that will be expected to tightly restrict the landing sites.
The decision to enact the temporary ban came, of course, in the weeks after the helicopter dispute during the Sundance Film Festival. Two companies offered helicopter services into the Snyderville Basin, on the edge of a neighborhood, for clients who wanted to fly above the festival traffic. The flights, though, infuriated neighbors and Summit County officials. The County Courthouse attempted to stop the flights, a judge declined to issue an order halting the helicopters and, as tensions heightened, a settlement was reached that ended the flights.
Summit County will smartly take the six months to figure out what to do with the situation. It will be an intriguing discussion, essentially pitting a well-off clientele that is interested in saving time by traveling to and from the Park City area in a helicopter against residents who desire a peaceful mountain setting.
The sides were delineated during Sundance. It appears they will be even clearer in the coming months as the resort industry has already outlined an interest in helicopter transportation to the Park City area. We expect it will be a delicate discussion given the parties involved and the residents-versus-businesses nature of the topic.
The example during Sundance clearly did not work. No one expects the six months of discussions to result in a move to allow helicopter landings close to a neighborhood in a fashion similar to what was witnessed in January. The talks, though, disconcertingly, will likely address the potential for landing sites in the Snyderville Basin.
There is no doubt that Park City will continue to attract a clientele that would prefer to take a helicopter flight to the city instead of a trip in a vehicle. There is also no doubt that a helicopter flying low overhead, landing and then departing again is a nuisance.
The cost of the flights is negligible for the passengers, but the price could be high for the community.
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