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St. Vincent Heart Center is seeking city permission to build a helipad on church-owned property south of 103rd Street in Carmel, about a half-mile from the specialty hospital.
Now, helicopter ambulances transporting cardiovascular patients must land at a borrowed facility a couple miles north, on the opposite side of heavily traveled U.S. 31—adding as much as 20 minutes to the trip.
“Timely transportation and patient safety is imperative,” St. Vincent spokesman Johnny Smith told IBJ.
The heart center offered the same explanation when it made a similar request in 2008, but Carmel’s Board of Zoning Appeals decided the proposed location was too close to nearby neighborhoods.
Residents likewise objected to the plans for a helipad just south of the hospital’s 106th Street location, expressing concerns about noise and safety, among other issues. (News junkies may remember 2008 saw a spate of fatal helicopter-ambulance crashes nationally.)
St. Vincent tried in vain to assuage their concerns, offering to establish a no-fly zone over the residential area and presenting a sound study that showed helicopter take-offs and landings wouldn’t be any louder than the traffic on U.S. 31 and Interstate 465.
The newly proposed location at 10202 N. Meridian St. is decidedly less residential. The now-vacant land was once the home of Pilgrim Lutheran Church, which relocated to 106th Street in 2012 to make way for the U.S. 31/I-465 interchange improvements now under construction.
Its nearest neighbors: insurance giant Geico’s customer service center and a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
It’s too soon to say if new location will make a difference with zoning officials, but the BZA is scheduled to consider the request at its Aug. 25 meeting. The Carmel Clay Plan Commission also is being asked to approve a development plan and associated details like signage and lighting.