During the last several days I attempted to locate the helipad at Saratoga National Golf Course in order to photograph it. It turns out that there may not be an actual helipad. Saratoga National Golf Course had been providing regular rides from its grounds for weddings and other events. I had assumed that in order to land a helicopter they would need a helipad. As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case. It appears that the laws governing where a helicopter can land and take off from may be fairly loose. As far as I can tell, they were using the driving range on the course to operate the helicopter.
I believe that landing a helicopter frequently to provide sightseeing rides in what is supposed to be a rural and bucolic area (the conservation district) is inappropriate and inconsistent with the comprehensive plan. I think that the noise has been a major nuisance to the people in the area.
Nevertheless, I was wrong in posting that it appeared that Saratoga National Golf Course had erected a helipad in violation of the city zoning ordinances. For whatever my differences are with Saratoga National Golf Course, they deserve accuracy in reporting on them as do the readers of this blog. It is not the first time I have had to apologize on this site and it will, unfortunately, not be the last. I apologize to Saratoga National Golf Course. I have taken down the inaccurate posting.
Having said that, the overall issue of the use of the greenbelt to land and launch helicopters remains. It would seem that for safety and noise reasons, there should be guidelines and requirements before someone can regularly land a helicopter on land not designed for that purpose. Unfortunately, there may not be. In fact, the FAA which is increasingly driven by the desires of the flight industry rather than the consumers may have authority over this matter and may have very lax requirements. They may supersede the authority of the local municipalities in the matter. There also may not be any current codes in our own city laws regarding this.
In the next few weeks I will be looking into how the city’s zoning law was amended to permit the building of a helipad in the city’s greenbelt and what sort of regulations exist regarding where non-emergency commercial helicopters can land.