The height of the Casino hotel under study | New

The height of a new hotel, part of Churchill Downs Inc.’s Queen of Terre Haute Resort Casino, is again under review by the Federal Aviation Administration.

A potential solution includes reducing the height of the building for the hotel and attaching air navigation warning lights to the top of the structure.

The issue concerns the height of a flight path approach to Terre Haute Regional Airport above a 150ft building originally proposed for the hotel-casino, along Margaret Avenue near the intersection from US40/Indiana 46 and an exit/entrance ramp for Interstate 70.

The majority of aircraft going to the airport use an instrument landing system which gives an accurate flight path and elevation to land at the airport. However, a small number of aircraft use what is known as the RNAV GPS 5 approach to land.

RNAV requires a different flight approach height and procedure to the airport. The impact on the airport is an expansion of the visibility required of pilots in the airport using this GPS approach, airport officials said Wednesday.

“The FAA has approved [the height] in March and then they disapproved of it, so I feel like we have to see what the FAA determines,” Rick Burger, chairman of the airport’s board of directors, said Wednesday.

The airport board met in executive session with Churchill Downs on Monday to receive briefings on the impact.

Monica Newhouse-Rodriguez, chief executive of Newhouse and Associates, LLC, which consults for the airport, said the FAA approved the original casino design in late March, including a 150-foot-tall building for a hotel, as well than a 200- foot tall crane.

However, a change in casino design has moved the hotel.

Churchill Downs then filed another notice, called Form 7460, with the FAA about his design.

This time, the FAA flagged the project with a flight hazard.

Churchill Downs then planned to return to the location of his original hotel; however, the FAA said a danger still existed, Newhouse-Rodriguez said.

An analysis was then carried out to determine what this really means for the airport, Newhouse-Rodriguez said.

Five years of weather data was analyzed “and it boiled down to a number of hours or 0.2% of the time where it would have even made a difference. That’s not to say that anyone has used this flight procedure, because that really isn’t the most accurate,” she said.

“Let’s be honest, do we want to lose something [in flight procedures] — absolutely not,” Newhouse-Rodriguez said of the airport. “Has the FAA stumbled upon this? 100%,” Monica said. “Our approach now is that we have to look at what the final decision is” from the FAA.

In response, the FAA said no final decision had been made.

Although the FAA does not issue permits, it assesses possible obstacles to aircraft flight paths.

“The evaluation regarding the casino building has not resulted in a final decision,” the FAA said in a statement sent to the Tribune-Star. “The FAA does not have the authority to limit building heights or halt construction. By law, developers must give the FAA the ability to evaluate proposed structures near airports to determine if they could pose a hazard to aircraft or interfere with navigational aids. After the assessment is completed, construction decisions are made by local governments.”

Proposed solution

Churchill Downs told airport officials on Monday that the company would certify the height of the building when completed and that it would likely not exceed 141 feet for the building, Newhouse-Rodriguez said.

“They [Churchill Downs] agreed to certify the height once it is completed, a height certification from an engineer, who then helps the FAA design a better flight procedure to avoid and reduce some of the increase in minimum requirements [such as visibility distance]“, said Monique.

Churchill Downs also agreed to provide “obstructing lighting on the building. This is an air navigation light which flashes white and red, in case of danger to air navigation”, she said. declared.

The measure brings to the fore the need to improve land use zoning around the airport, Burger said. The airport has been working on a new zoning overlay for the airport, which is expected to be submitted to the Vigo County Area Planning Commission in October. It will also pass in front of the town hall of Terre Haute.

Land use is not a decision made by the airport or the FAA, Newhouse-Rodriguez said.

“That’s one of the reasons why we need this airport [zoning] overlay from the strategic plan. The county has very good land use regulations, but it’s dated and the language has changed, but the city has nothing that protects the airport,” she said.

Tonya Abeln, vice president of communications for Churchill Downs Inc., said the company is “currently awaiting the final decision from the FAA. As always, we look forward to working with local authorities in the best interests of the project and all community stakeholders. .”

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or [email protected] Follow on Twitter @TribStarHoward.

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