Neighbors Continue Fight to Block Johnson & Johnson Heirs' Request to Bring a Heliport to Rural New Jersey

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The battle has been going on for more than a year and already has had some repercussions. The threat of a heliport has scuttled a house sale and residents are nervous that the way of life in this rural hamlet will be altered forever.

"The proposed heliport will have a significant negative impact on our environment, our safety, as well as our quality of life and tranquility we all enjoy." --Chris and Lois Kennedy

The second hearing on the Johnson & Johnson heirs’ request to create a controversial heliport on their farm is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. June 1 at a meeting of the Land Use Board in the All Purpose Room at Old Turnpike School, 171 Old Turnpike Road, Califon.

“The neighbors have tried to lobby the Johnson family with postcards and personal pleas to no avail,” according to Charlyne V. Schaub, spokesperson for Citizens Against Heliports in Tewskbury.

The application says James L. Johnson, owner of Cedar Lane Farm, wants a variance to be “used among other things to provide a landing area for the buyers of the cattle bred on Cedar Lane Farm.” The Johnson family also has stated publicly that they want the heliport primarily for their personal use.

The citizens group is concerned that the heliport will dramatically alter the peaceful way of life they enjoy in their community, where scenic roads are preserved and residents ride their horses down the street. They cite noise, pollution and fear that approval will set a precedent for other heliports in this rural community.

“The proposed heliport will have a significant negative impact on our environment, our safety, as well as our quality of life and tranquility we all enjoy,” according to Chris and Lois Kennedy of Oldwick, owners of the Homestead Miniature Horse Farm which offers horses and carriages as therapy for children suffering from life-altering diseases such as cancer. “Our neighbors share our concern that property values could decline as a result of the helicopter noise in this otherwise rural and peaceful area. The application is inconsistent with all that we value in this community.

“Considering that there are local airports minutes away, a private heliport for any purpose seems redundant. If this application is approved, surely others in the township will want to do the same, thus intensifying the issues and adding to the destruction of our peaceful way of life.”

Schaub also pointed out the following objections from the citizens’ group:

Real estate values may fall. A couple canceled their contract to buy a neighbor’s house when they learned the Johnsons had applied for the variance for the helipad.

Neighbors expressed concern at the last Land Use Board meeting that those who build on the new 13-lot subdivision on the Johnson’s farm would be permitted to use the heliport, escalating the nuisance factor.

Homestead Road, where the farm is located, has many riders and trails. Horses spook easily by loud noises, such as those made by a helicopter, and that’s why the township requires a reduced speed of 25 miles per hour speed limit when anyone drives their car near a horse.

Approval could set a dangerous precedent. There are 66 other properties with 5 to 10 acres of land in the township that could make the same claims for a heliport as the Johnsons.

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Charlyne Schaub
Schaub Communications
(561) 302-4129
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