By Ashley Rader
USA Helicopters Inc., will be seeking final approval from City Council during tonight’s meeting for a new heliport at its business location and the owners want to assure city residents the business will be a good neighbor.
The company has been located at 311 Cherokee Park Drive since June and have asked for city approval to build a 60-foot by 60-foot heliport in the back lot of the property to be able to offer helicopter maintenance to its clients. The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission gave approval for the heliport during its meeting on Sept. 5, which leaves the final approval for council to decide during their meeting at 6 p.m. tonight.
USA Helicopters vice president Erik Kitchens said the heliport would give the pilots a clean, safe place to land when coming to the business and would give the mechanics adequate space to work on the helicopters.
Kitchens said there had been some concern from the public that the business would increase the noise levels for nearby communities. He said any noise from the helicopters would be brief when landing or taking off or for short periods of time during their 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday when helicopters were idling while work was being done on the machines.
Helicopters will approach the business from the north or the west which is over Watauga River and wooded areas. Kitchens said the traffic would not have a large impact on residential neighborhoods.
“A lot of people are scared there is going to be this large amount of noise,” he said. “That is not going to happen.”