Village preparing close look at helicopter business

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – A proposed new business here is coming under close scrutiny from village officials and residents.

Village President Alan Rudnick reported to the Village Board Monday that the Planning Commission is considering a rezoning and conditional use permit request from Ellen Dupuy for 610 Aero Drive.

Dupuy is hoping to operate a helicopter charter service from the property on the south edge of the village, Rudnick explained.

The commission tabled the requests at their last meeting, Rudnick said, and hopes to bring it back up at their July 10 meeting.

“The Plan Commission has just scratched the surface of this thing,” Rudnick stated. “We requested a lot of information from the owners and hopefully we’ll have that at the July 10 meeting. This is becoming a hot issue and we need to have all that information.”

Several trustees agreed, saying they had heard concerns expressed by constituents over issues related to the proposed helicopter charter service, such as noise and dust.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation out there about what this means,” Trustee Lynn Shovan responded.

A request from Road America to install temporary asphalt patch ramps from Lake Street onto The Osthoff Resort property for the Vintage Concours D’Elegance July 19 was turned down after discussion among the trustees.

Rudnick explained that the temporary ramps would make it easier to get the vintage cars onto the lawn at The Osthoff for display. Going over the curb can cause damage to many of the cars, he added.

“It would be at their cost and their cleanup,” Rudnick said of the ramps.

But several trustees questioned the impact continued and increased use of the walkway and lawn at The Osthoff is having.

“There seems to be more and more requests to get on the lawn,” Trustee Pam Garton observed. “Anyone who walks that way on the walkway can see that it is really getting damaged. It takes a toll on that.”

Trustee Michael Wolf, noting that additional space is available to park cars along East Street during the Concours, said there should be discussion with The Osthoff on weight limits for the walkway.

Rudnick said the ramps would be just a one-year thing and would be put in one day, then removed the next.

“Long term they would like to redesign the drive so in the future it makes it easier to get cars in there without damaging them,” he told the board.

Shovan moved that the board approve the temporary ramps for one year while pursuing a long-term answer.

That motion failed by a vote of 3-2, with trustees Richard Baumann and Richard Sadiq abstaining and Rudnick and Shovan voting for it.

The board approved refinancing roughly $850,000 in existing debt with Community Bank and Trust. Rudnick explained the refinancing would be for $1 million, gaining the village about $150,000 in extra revenue, but at the same monthly payments thanks to a lower interest rate.

Wolf reported that the Municipal Planning and Development Committee is getting closer to closing the purchase of a property on Kettleview Court to create an entrance to June Vollrath Park from the east.

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