December 14, 2011

Mayor Emanuel Proposes Update to Ordinance Governing Heliports

New ordinance modernizes municipal heliport regulation, improves heliport construction and fire prevention safety standards, brings municipal standards in line with state and federal rules

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today proposed an update to the ordinance governing heliports in the City of Chicago, which will modernize and improve heliport construction and fire prevention safety standards and protect the quality of life in Chicago neighborhoods.

“A review of the standards surrounding heliports is long overdue,” said Mayor Emanuel. “With these updates, we will bring our heliport ordinance in line with federal and state standards and ensure that these licenses protect the residents of the City of Chicago.”

The current City ordinance was last substantively revised in 1973, and these reforms bring it in line with current building codes and fire codes. It also updates and expands planned development elements and zoning codes, and makes sure that the City’s ordinance governing heliports is consistent with Illinois Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration jurisdiction over air transportation and rules surrounding heliports.

The ordinance proposal seeks to focus City efforts and resources on areas where it has both expertise and jurisdiction. These include:

  • Building Safety: The amendments modernize building requirements by requiring adherence to the most recent heliport building design industry standards.
  • Fire Prevention: The amendments modernize fire safety requirements by requiring adherence to the most recent National Fire Protection Association standards for heliports.
  • Quality of life in City neighborhoods: The ordinance strengthens, expands and clarifies the zoning requirements for planned development approval for proposed heliports.
  • Enforcement: Establishes City authority to issue orders to cease operations if it is determined that a heliport is unsafe, and broadens the City's authority to adopt rules for the regulation of heliports.

The ordinance will streamline the licensing processes surrounding heliports. Heliports will obtain FAA and IDOT approval, insurance, and must have planned development approval from the City and an indemnification agreement with the City. Once these are in place, heliports will be able to be approved. This will bring Chicago in line with federal and state guidelines, and will dramatically reduce duplicative review processes. It will also promote better enforcement.

The license will be $400 for a two-year license. Under the provisions of the ordinance, fines will increase from $50 to $200 per offense to $500 to $5,000 per offense.

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