Homer planning commission rejects heliport permit

The Homer Advisory Planning Commission has denied a conditional use permit application by Eric Lee of Slingblade Aviation to put a heliport on the Homer Spit. Lee proposed a helipad that would be on the beach across the Homer Spit Road from the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. He would run about five flightseeing tours daily using a three-passenger helicopter. Heliports are allowed in the Marine Commercial District on the Spit as a conditional use.

The planning commission made its decision at its June 5 meeting, and distributed its written finding on July 16. Several people testified at the June 5 hearing on the conditional use permit, with Lee and another pilot in support, while three others spoke against the plan, including a fixed-wing pilot and Spit business owner, Jackie Dentz. Dentz and birder George Matz, who runs the annual shorebird monitoring program, both mentioned the threat of helicopters to birds on the Spit. 

In its findings, the planning commission said Lee’s conditional use permit met only two of 10 review criteria, that the use is allowed by the zoning district and that public services and facilities are adequate to serve the proposed use. The commission found that the heliport was not compatible with the purpose of the zoning district and that it would negatively impact adjoining property, among other criteria. The commission said the permit went against the Comprehensive Plan’s goal of protecting “public access to and enjoyment of the Spit’s unique natural resources.”

Lee has 30 days from the date of distribution, July 16, to appeal the denial to the Homer City Council, acting as the Board of Adjustment. Lee did not return a phone message asking if he planned to appeal.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.