I am writing as both a concerned citizen and neighbor, to object to the proposed commercialization of the private helicopter landing pad located at 5560 Hwy 93 S, Whitefish. The current owner of that property, East Glacier Holdings, LLC, submitted a proposal to commercialize this facility to the Flathead County Board of Adjustments on Oct. 1. This was a poorly publicized meeting. Only neighbors within 150 feet of the facility were notified individually.
The proposal itself is ambiguous and vague. Concerns are not concretely addressed, and some not even mentioned. Those concerns include the following:
Noise impact is discussed in the proposal, but only regarding adjacent properties, not the surrounding area, which would also be impacted. The proposal states that a helicopter “can generate 90dB of noise.” What the proposal does not do, is explain what that really means. Per the proposal, the “acceptable noise level” is 65dB. To put this in perspective, the 90dB is 25dB over the acceptable noise level. However, using the decibel scale, this means that the helicopter generates 500 times the acceptable level of noise. “Perceived noise level” is not addressed. The effects this noise level can have on neighboring residents, livestock, and wildlife is not addressed in the proposal.
The proposal mentions that there could be a negative effect in property value of adjacent owners. It does not address that neighbors within quite a wider area could also experience this negative impact. There is no mitigation mentioned.
The area is referred to, within the proposal, as “sparsely populated.” What exactly does that mean? How large of an area was considered? What constitutes a “sparse” population? Is this just an opinion, or are there facts to back this up? Sparse population is undefined in the proposal.
The type and size of helicopters and drones to be flown from this facility are undefined.
The type of fuel to be used, as well as how it will be stored is also not addressed in this proposal. Will they be using gasoline, or jet fuel? Will it be stored above ground, or underground?
Fire protection is addressed in the proposal as “Due to the proximity to the fire station, it is anticipated response times in the event of an emergency would be reasonable.” It is referring to the Whitefish Rural Fire Department on Hogsden Road. No supporting evidence is given. No plans for on-site protection are given. Fire prevention is mentioned by stating that the immediate area is free from trees.
Spill containment is mentioned, but no details are given. What would they be doing to contain possible fuel spills and runoff from de-icing chemicals?
Dust, glare, and heat concerns are minimalized in the proposal, but no supporting facts or studies are provided.
Smoke, fumes, gases, and odors are also minimalized, but no supporting evidence is stated.
Lighting is mentioned, and minimalized, but no limits are given.
Operating hours are only speculated on, not defined.
The number of flights per day and per week are speculated upon, but no limits are provided.
Glacier International Airport is an established facility that could accommodate the proposed business. Use of this airport would eliminate all the concerns given. Has its use been considered as an alternative?
This proposal is to be voted on at a future meeting of the Flathead County Board of Adjustments. Their decision will be final. That date is still indefinite. I urge local residents to voice their objections to the commercialization of the helipad located at 5560 Hwy 93S.
Juanita H. Kingan, Whitefish