SUMMIT, NJ—Supporters and opponents of Overlook Hospital’s application to install a helipad on the roof of the city medical facility will return to Union County Superior Court in Elizabeth this spring to find out if the Summit Board of Adjustment’s denial of the application will be upheld.
The zoning board’s hearing on the Overlook application lasted about a year, producing transcripts totaling an estimate of more than 3,000 pages. Testimony came from expert witnesses in everything from real estate valuation to the impact of noise levels.
On June 21, 2011 the Summit Board of Adjustment ruled the helipad application did not deserve favorable treatment just because the proposed landing area was attached to a hospital.
Because, under zoning law, hospitals are considered an “inherently beneficial use” to the community, the medical care facilities are supposed to get favorable treatment. However, the city zoning board concluded because the helipad was not an “accessory” use of the hospital it was not entitled to special treatment.
While the majority of the board did not believe the helipad would fit into the inherently beneficial use category, the zoning body decided to proceed as if did fit into that category in the case an appeal was brought concerning its decision.
The Summit Board of Adjustment then voted 6-1 to deny the application, with Sandy Bloom, who later ran for Common Council, the only member of the board to vote in favor of the application.
Overlook appealed that decision to Union County Superior Court at the beginning of February.
Zoning board attorney Dennis Galvin told The Alternative Press that the board of adjustment has 60 days from the February filing to respond to the hospital’s written brief in the appeal.
Galvin added he was working on his reply brief and expected the case to continue this spring, probably in May.
Beyond that, Galvin said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the case.
Neither Overlook attorney, Bart Sheehan, nor Michael Kates, the attorney for Citizens Against the Helipad, returned calls from The Alternative Press seeking comments on the case.