City approves VVH heliport |

City approves VVH heliport

Valley View Hospital’s front yard could soon undergo a drastic change, as the hospital constructs a landing pad for emergency helicopters on the corner of 19th Street and Blake Avenue. Following a recommendation from the city Planning and Zoning Commission, the Glenwood Springs City Council approved a variance and a special use permit for the helipad, or “helistop,” Thursday night as part of the hospital’s expansion plans. City Director of Community Development Andrew McGregor said the city code does not stipulate a process for building a helipad, requiring the hospital to ask for a special use permit for the landing pad. Valley View asked for a variance because the pad will be built closer to Blake Avenue than city code allows. When complete, the new helipad will rise above the existing Glenwood Medical Associates and Valley View Hospital parking lot, and would include parking beneath it. A walkway will slope toward ground level to allow for easy access from the emergency room. McGregor said the hospital expects no more than 12 helicopter takeoffs and landings each month. “This is not a heliport,” he said. “These aircraft are not going to be lingering in this location. They will land, turn off their engines. … They don’t stay here overnight.”The hospital’s architect, Jack Potter, of Nashville, Tenn., said that Valley View’s preferred location for the helipad is also the site the Federal Aviation Administration favors. Two other sites were considered, including one in front of the old Valley View Hospital building and another on the hillside behind the hospital. Potter said the site at Blake Avenue and 19th Street has the best helicopter approach pattern. Helicopters will take off and land parallel to Blake Avenue, requiring some large trees near the landing pad to be removed to comply with FAA-mandated height clearances, he said. Obstruction lights will be installed on the hospital building and the pad itself, but they would only remain lit for 15 minutes and would be activated only by helicopter pilots as they approach the pad. He said the pad will be “dressed up” to match the facade of the hospital. The council approved the setback variance with only Councilor Dave Johnson dissenting, saying he doesn’t like the helipad’s streetcorner location. “It’s just a matter of gut feeling,” he said. “It just seems wrong to me. I certainly see the value of it.”The council passed the special use permit unanimously. “All of us greatly appreciate what the hospital has done,” said Mayor Bruce Christensen. “This appears to be a clear next step to providing a next higher level of service.”The council also approved a major development permit for the Caravan Hotel on Grand Avenue, whose owners plan to construct a 6,084 square foot, two-story restaurant and exercise facility. The hotel plans to close its southernmost driveway and consolidate traffic onto its north driveway. The new building will be constructed on an empty lot just north of the hotel. McGregor said that the Colorado Department of Transportation favors driveway consolidations such as the one the Caravan Hotel is considering. The city Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the council approve a permit and variances for the project. In four motions, the council approved the project unanimously. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext.

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