Standoff on Sorrento chopper pad

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CONCERNS over a proposed private helipad near the back beach at Sorrento have generated a huge online backlash.

By Wednesday 165 objections had been posted against proposals for a helipad in Ivanhoe St, citing loss of character, safety and amenity, as well as fire and chemical spillage risks.

Objectors claim the helipad would breach Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme Clause 52.15-2 which relates to the helicopter’s landing distance from neighbouring properties.

Mornington Peninsula Shire manager statutory planning Niall Sheehy on Wednesday said no permit application for a helipad had been received.

The owner of the block at 31 Ivanhoe St, Simon Pitard, said he had not yet decided whether he would apply for a permit.

“At the moment I am going through the workings with neighbours to discuss what we are doing and come to a resolution,” he said.

“Some people are making a mountain out of a molehill.”

Mr Pitard said he intended building a holiday home for his family’s use and not use a helipad to attract buyers to any future subdivision of the hectare block. He says he intends flying in four times a month, most likely weekends.

He disputed claims his landings would breach the shire’s planning scheme, saying helicopters the size and weight of his Raven 44 – below 1.6 tonnes – were allowed within the 43 metre-distance to his nearest neighbour.

In discussions with nearby residents he used technical specifications to explain that noise from the helicopter was below that of a lawnmower and far less than a chainsaw.

“It’s the only block of its kind and I want to build a private residence there,” he said. “There’s no other block like it in Sorrento that has the ability to have a helipad.

“My helicopter would fly in over a national park and not over anyone’s property and with a clear approach.”

He said in the event of not receiving a helipad permit and possibly selling the block, he would “subdivide and clear the land and sell off six lots”.

Petitioners led by Josh Marks, who has had a family home nearby for 40 years, claim a helipad would adversely impact on neighbours’ enjoyment of their land and reduce the value of their land.

“It will detract from the overall harmony of the community and is utterly inappropriate,” they say.

Jill Fearon, OAM, of Jarman Crt, said fire safety was her biggest concern. “If it crashed and caught fire it could ignite the peninsula,” she said. “And that’s apart from injuring people.”

The resident of 21 years – whose property backs onto the Pitard block – said approval of a helipad would set a precedent for more. “That and the safety risk are my worst fears, because he would have to keep aviation fuel here.”

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 6 October 2015

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