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Story Retrieval Date: 4/17/2015 12:08:14 PM CST

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Shyla Nott/MEDILL

The city plan commission on  Thursday deferred the proposed Chicago Helicopter Express facility in Bridgeport to a future date.

Heliport project in Bridgeport propels competition and confusion

by Shyla Nott
Feb 20, 2014

A helicopter tour company looking to expand along the Chicago River’s south branch by turning a now vacant plot into a site for scenic and commercial travel is facing competition with an already-approved project in the Illinois Medical District.

“Vertiport fears competition,” said Eric Herman, a spokesman for Wheeling-based Chicago Helicopter Express. “We welcome it.”

The Chicago Plan Commission deferred to consider the proposal for a second heliport at Thursday’s meeting. The proposed heliport at 2420 S. Halsted St. would include a touchdown and lift-off area, fueling station, and 14 helipads on a 4.6-acre property.

But after the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, commonly known as PERRO, called the plan a “sonic assault” on the community in a statement released Monday, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) withdrew his support. Messages left for Ald. James Balcer (11th) on whether he still supports the proposal were not returned.

Some Bridgeport and Pilsen residents said they were not informed of the company’s proposal and are concerned about the possibility of increased air and noise pollution in their neighborhoods.

“It needs to have a community outreach and hearing to get all the facts out,” Grant Crowley said. “These are things that should be examined and brought into the sunlight. And for some reason that process wasn’t being done.”

Crowley is on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Chicago River, a community-based environmental organization, and owns property near the proposed heliport site.

Jerry Mead-Lucero, an organizer for PERRO, said both helipad projects should slow down in Monday’s statement. “Members of PERRO are very worried that dozens of helicopters flying in and out of the area every day will create constant noise–which causes sleep deprivation, hearing loss, headaches, and heart problems.”

As the Chicago Helicopter Express waits for the green light, construction for the competing Vertiport in the Illinois Medical District is slated to begin this spring.