Today the Summit County Council is likely going to put a temporary ban new helicopter landing sites in the Snyderville Basin. This comes after residents complained about commercial helicopter flights during Sundance. In recent weeks the Park Record has jumped in with articles like, It was Like a War Zone as Helicopters Buzzed the Basin. In the article a local resident says, “she was in her backyard as a helicopter flew overhead approximately 200 feet off the ground.”
Personally, I don’t really care about the helicopters. I get “buzzed” by the Life Flight helicopter flying up the canyon almost every weekend — only I look at that service as a necessity and with sadness as I know someone is probably in really bad shape. Some might also say that Sundance helicopters are a necessity to “keep up” with other film festivals like Cannes that have those services. I know most of you are rolling your eyes… but if we are willing to put up with all the construction that happens on Main St to support Sundance, the amount of “pollution” that is used by vehicles to build spaces so people can party and dine, and the negative impact to quality of life that many people experience during Sundance… what’s a day and a half of helicopter flights? But I digress …
While I understand the “need to do something,” this ordinance seems like a council trying to appear like it is doing something…. anything. Is it an election year?
Why do I say that ? First, the ordinance expires September 8th, 2016. It is billed as a temporary restriction until long term rules can be put in place. However, what event between now and the end of Summer is going to draw private helicopter landings? Are Guns N’ Roses playing a reunion show at Deer Valley and planning on descending via chopper? Is Vail expecting the Canyons “Food and Wine Classic” to draw that sort of crowd? It’s just so unlikely.
Second, why just put the ordinance in for the Snyderville Basin? Why not include Eastern Summit County, if its such a problem? The Snyderville Basin dividing line (from Eastern Summit County) is really only about a half mile (in some places) from Highway 40. Good news Promontory folks… it looks like one of your golf courses is just on the other side of the line. If this ordinance is necessary to prevent helicopter landings, then land your helicopters at will!
The third problem is Wasatch County. It sure looks like a prime landing spot over at the Stock Lumber Yard is in Wasatch County. It’s probably even a better spot than where Uber landed this year. The “good news” is that the helicopters will still be flying across the Basin at 200 feet.
I understand why the County Council is doing this. However, it just seems like a feel good measure, with little practical benefit. However, the cost of the feel good measure is spending valuable legal resources drafting an ordinance like this.
It just seems like a waste of time.