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County Official Reflects On How Restrictions On Commercial Helicopters Came To Be

The Sundance Film Festival is usually remembered for the movies screened there. But Sundance in 2016 had a different kind of legacy.

It led to new regulations on helicopter flights, after the county clashed with some Uber helicopter services that operated near Old Ranch Road.

County Development Director Pat putt recalled that the saga involving the Uber-copters ultimately led to a sub-committee being formed to create some new regulations.

“We formed a subcommittee to take a look at evaluating helicopters in general.” Putt explained, “The more global impact of helicopters. What are they used for? What are their needs if we’re going to allow them? What should be the conditions if at all we put together a group that was made up of a number of staff people here at the county. With some aviation experts you know people who actually build and locate airports and heliports. We had a couple of helicopter operators as part of that group as well. What we did is we drafted about as comprehensive of a helicopter ordinance as we could develop.”

After several months, with hearings before the Snyderville Commission and County Council, the county approved helicopter use for just a couple of reasons.

“One was going to be fire and police department, public safety.” Putt continued, “The other was going to be for emergency medical services. Remember we’ve got a helicopter pad out by the sheriff’s office. There’s one just inside the city limits at the hospital so Police, Fire and Medical would be permitted. The only other use that is permitted now under the code would be for construction purposes. One of the resorts flying in towers, something like that. That would go through a low-impact permit process. Other than that no other helicopter landing pads, no heliports, commercial or private are permitted in the basin.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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