Rotorcraft Update: If they'd never brought it up...

 - May 8, 2008, 5:59 AM

For the last 15 years, a northern New Jersey bank has been quietly landing its
AS 350 AStar on a grassy patch of ground a few yards from its Ramsey office, logging a total of some 189 takeoffs and landings. It was only after the bank decided to build a concrete-surfaced landing site that town officials found out about the operation, and now local residents and businesses are up in arms. The site, in a corner of the parking lot of Commerce Bank’s regional headquarters, has already received FAA approval. The bank plans to use the site four or five times a month for executive transport. For its part, the bank said it never applied for permission to operate a formal heliport because nearly no one ever complained and the land is zoned for heliport use. Nevertheless, the New Jersey Department of Transportation is looking into the matter, pledging it won’t rule on a license for the proposed site until the matter passes approval by the local planning board. Under state law, Commerce Bank could be fined as much as $1,000 for each use of a heliport without a license. The question of whether a piece of open ground without lights or other identification constitutes a heliport has yet to be determined as well.