Talk about neighborhood flight. Pilot John Hamilton's neighbors in Elk Grove, Calif., say he must have his head in the clouds -- because there's no way they'll approve of him landing his chopper in his backyard. Hamilton, who owns a helicopter charter business, wants to build a helipad in his backyard so he can operate his business from home, Sacramento TV station KCRA reported. He's already built a barn for his helicopter, thinking he had the city's permission, and he's been landing his helicopter there for a few years already. But neighbor complaints throw his whole plan into jeopardy.
"I would not have spent the money to build the barn if the city would have told me that I couldn't land there," Hamilton told the Elk Grove Planning Commission at a hearing. "They absolutely did not tell me that." He has the backing of some neighbors: He brought a petition to the planning commission with 14 of his neighbors' signatures, stating: "Please allow John Hamilton to operate his helicopter from his residence," according to The Sacramento Bee. But still, other neighbors say the noise generated by the chopper is affecting their peace of mind.
Neighbor Beverly Stevens owns horses and told KCRA that the sound of the helicopter could scare and endanger her animals. "If he scares them and they run into a fence, they can get hurt and not be able to be shown or be bred," Stevens said.
Another neighbor, Mark Fetler, sent an email to the planning commission fighting Hamilton's helipad plan. According to the Bee, Fetler's email said: "I understand that Mr. Hamilton has a business to run and would refer the convenience of his own home, even though it adversely impacts his neighbors. However, I do not believe that asking him to use the services of a regular, legal airport constitutes an undue hardship."
Hamilton is trying to have the planning commission change zoning codes in his area to allow helicopters to land in residential areas. But dozens of neighbors showed up to a Thursday night hearing to fight it. Finally, after debate with the planning commission over his plan, Hamilton said that he was withdrawing his application for a permit to build a helipad in his backyard.
"I don't want to make anybody mad," Hamilton told KCRA. "I live in this neighborhood. I love this neighborhood. I love my neighbors, and I want to keep everybody happy." The planning commission eventually voted to deny a code change allowing for Hamilton's helipad.
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