Officials at the IBM facility in Yorktown are planning to construct a helipad and expand the existing parking lot.
Representatives met with Yorktown town board members on Tuesday to seek their approval. The facility has used an existing baseball field to land helicopters across the road, which IBM representatives called "not the safest place" because of its soft surface and nearby trees. The proposed helipad would be located on the lawn in front of the visitor parking area.
The grass paving system, which uses grass growing out of a plastic grid, would be used for the new helipad. IBM officials said it would be located further away from the homes in the area and it would be lit only when in use.
When asked about the flight pattern of each helicopter, they said it would be from I-684 with a drop down right to the helipad. IBM representatives told Yorktown board members the ballfield site had not been used recently and there had been generally between two to three flights a year.
They said the facility would not be for public use, but rather to accommodate the business needs of the company and "high profile" clients. They anticipate between six and eight trips per year, all during normal business hours.
Building inspector John Winter said the current zoning ordinance does not have a provision for a helipad and if something is not specifically listed in the ordinance, then it coulnd't be permitted. Yorktown planning director John Tegeder said the town could amend the zone in which IBM is located or it could issue a special permit for a helipad.
Donald Snyder, Director of Structural Engineering at SSM Group, Inc. who is working on the IBM projects also discussed with town board members the expansion of the facility's parking lot. The expansion is needed to accommodate approximately 455 new employees, who will be relocated to the Kitchawan facility from the company's other location in Hawthorne.
Officials said they plan to finish the project by Labor Day before the relocated employees start work. They also said that traffic has never been an issue at the facility because employees go to work at different times during the day, but they would need an additional 100 parking spots to accommodate more employees.
Environmental consultant Bruce Barber told board members that both the helipad and parking lot applications would have to be reviewed by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) because the property is in the Croton watershed.
Tegeder said board members would need to make sure the proper laws existed before they could accept any applications from IBM. While they're deciding on the legal issues, IBM representatives would continue work on their plans.
"We'll have to figure out what we want to do within our line of code," Yorktown supervisor Michael Grace said.
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