An air ambulance service is coming to Fayetteville, and residents near the area are not happy. At Thursday night’s meeting, the Fayetteville City Council voted to approve the Special Exception request allowing for the helicopter pad for Air Evac Lifeteam to be built at Promenade Parkway.
Air Evac Lifeteam would build a helipad, maintenance bay, and staff quarters on the roughly 1.9-acre plot. The privately owned and operated helipad would base only one helicopter at a time, and the maintenance bay would not be open to the public.
There would be three crew members on base at all times, and there would be an approximate 30 flights per month, with each takeoff and landing taking an approximate two to three minutes apiece.
Julie Brown, senior planner for Fayetteville, noted that on a demonstration run, decibel ratings did not top 90, comparing roughly to the noise of a lawnmower.
As part of the approval, they agreed to a no fly zone over the neighboring residential areas, with the nearest residence at 693 feet away, and instead fly over the nearby Fayette Pavilion shopping center.
Whitney Miller with Air Evac noted that they chose the particular location because they wanted to be as close to the hospital as possible while staying within zoning requirements. It will also allow them a roughly 150-mile radius of service.
“The business of what we do is life saving, and those are traumatic emergencies, so time is of the essence,” Miller said. “This is a life-saving resource in your community.”
Numerous homeowners from Pine Trail Road showed out to ask the council to reject the proposal over concerns of noise pollution and damage to home values.
“Not a one of you would condone having it in your backyard,” said Pat King.
Mayor Ed Johnson said he appreciated their concerns, but he trusted that staff had properly vetted the proposal.
“I think this council, as well as the staff, have been through a lot of due diligence to make sure we gather all the facts to make sure we are doing what’s in the best interest of the city, as well as the citizens of this community,” he said. “What I would like you to understand is this council has been very insightful, been very diligent about making sure we gather all the facts before we make any decisions.”
The special exception request passed 3-1, with Rich Hoffman, Paul Oddo, and Harlan Shirley in favor. Kathaleen Brewer voted in opposition, saying she felt uneasy about setting the precedent for aviation in that particular zoning, and Scott Stacy recused himself.