A third public hearing has been scheduled Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss a special exception request from Dr. Michael Selig, who wants to establish a private airport/heliport on his property at 5471 Rte. 309 in Schnecksville.
The North Whitehall Zoning Board first heard Dr. Selig's request this summer and they turned him away because his plan didn't have enough details. A public hearing was scheduled Oct. 25 but zoners decided to host a second hearing Nov. 8 because there were still people who wanted to testify.
About 35 people, most of whom opposed the special exception request, attended the Oct. 25th hearing, according to Township Manager Jeff Bartlett. He said testimony was often emotional and off track considering the zoning board can only weigh the legal aspects of Selig's request or it risks a lawsuit.
"I understand peoples' concerns but this process is costing everyone money - the township and the applicant and some of the testimony is not relevant," Bartlett said after the Oct. 25th hearing. "There were people questioning how much money he will make but whether he makes or loses money really has no bearing on it."
He went on to say, "An ordinance is a law and just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean you can necessarily stop it."
The zoning board can, however, impose restrictions - like no flights Sunday mornings. The property is zoned agricultural/residential and Selig needs the exception because the proposed runway would be less than 1,000 feet from a dwelling.
During the first meeting, Dr. Selig, who is a cardiologist, said one of the ways he would like to use the helicopter was for organ transport. He surmised that the airport runway could be used when nearby airports were full or runways were down.
Selig said he doesn't own a plane but he does have a helicopter.
Bartlett said zoners will make the final decision - it will not have to be kicked up to Township Supervisors.