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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cleveland Really, Really Doesn't Want Helicopters in West Park

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2012 at 2:12 PM

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The City of Cleveland is in court again, trying to block Cleveland Clinic from building a helipad atop Fairview Hospital. After the city zoning board refused to issue a permit for the helipad last year, saying that helicopters landing near Kamm's Corner don't fit in with its definition of a retail business district, the Clinic went to court.

In February, Common Pleas Judge Hollie Galagher ruled in favor of the Clinic, saying helicopters flying in and out do fit nicely with the city's zoning for the area.

"I think the city will pull out all the stops on this one," says Councilman Brian Cummins. And so far, it is. The city zoning board is now appealing the judge's decision.

The helipad battle has been going on for well over a year, with West Park residents fearing the noise daily emergency flights to and from Fairview Hospital would bring. During community meetings, residents also argued that their property values would fall if the helipad was located there. The Clinic, meanwhile, says that a Fairview Hospital helipad would save lives. Right now, flights land in the Metroparks directly behind the hospital, and emergency and medical crews have to shuttle critically ill or injured patients into and out of the valley.

The Clinic has already started construction on a $76 million expansion project at the hospital that includes a much larger emergency department and an additional intensive care unit. The helipad, originally intended to be built on top of the new addition, is on hold until the court weighs in a second time. “We do believe it’s an important service to provide to the community,” says Clinic spokeswoman Heather Phillips.

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