Chopper Clash in Burlington

A man wants to land a chopper at home and neighbors are not happy.

There is growing acrimony over one man's aviation hobby in Burlington.

Paul Blanchette has owned his own helicopter since 2005, reports the Hartford Courant. When he bought it, he lived in a different neighborhood in town and had no problems when he tried to land at his home helipad. 

But he recently moved to a new neighborhood and residents there are less than pleased to have a helicopter land near their homes.

A group of residents is asking town officials to ban what they call "aviation activity" in residential areas. The board of selectmen plans to discuss it tonight. The agenda includes an item for a "helicopter ordinance proposal."

Paul Stadler, one of Blanchette's neighbors, said he worries that a helicopter accident could start a forest fire in a nearby nature conservancy.

Blanchette said he has built a storage building with a concrete helipad in his yard. He said he's flown near the house and hovered to test the flight path, but hasn't yet landed there. He has a heliport at his business in Bristol.

"Bristol has welcomed me with open arms, and Burlington welcomed me with open arms when I was going in and out of Daniel Trace," he told the Courant "I respect their concerns. I would love to have the opportunity to prove to them this is not going to affect them in any way, shape or form. That's all I ask."

First Selectwoman Catherine Bergstrom told the Courant that town ordinances and regulations are "ambiguous" in this case and the town might want to consider changing zoning laws that would have to be voted on by the entire town.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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