In search of a place to land; Zoning battle: Baltimore County could resolve Green Spring Valley dispute with a few helipads.


RATHER THAN get further bogged down in a protracted legal battle over the desire of the chairman of Rite Aid Corp. to land a helicopter near his home, Baltimore County could help solve the problem by building a few helipads. It's a matter of economic development, particularly for executives who travel to their jobs by helicopter rather than car.

Convenience is at the heart of this issue. Martin Grass wanted a landing site close to his Green Spring Valley home so he could commute to Rite Aid headquarters in Camp Hill, Pa.

The county Board of Appeals has ruled that Mr. Grass' use of a farm field near his home as a helipad violates zoning laws. Mr. Grass is likely to continue to land there as his case winds its way through the courts. Neighbors, already unhappy, would like this annoyance to end.

Finding an alternative site for Mr. Grass, as well as other helicopter commuters, would restore quiet to the lower end of Green Spring Valley. It might encourage other top corporate executives who work in distant locations to reside in the Baltimore area.

Helicopters don't require much space to land, but they are noisy. Since the county is committed to protecting residential areas from nuisances such as loud noise, finding convenient locations for commuter helipads will be a challenge.

Previous efforts to find a site for Mr. Grass may have failed, but there must be some locations that would not be disruptive to neighborhoods.

One possibility is to permit helipads on roofs of office towers. Helicopters landing and taking off from those buildings would be less disruptive than using fields or parking lots.

A few well-placed helipads should take care of Mr. Grass's commuting needs, as well as any other county resident who flies a helicopter to work.

Pub Date: 10/07/99

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