Public records request reveals additional information on the illegal helipad at the Grand Del Mar
That's no heliport. It's a concrete fitness pad.
That pretty much sums up the response from president of Manchester Resorts, Tom Voss, to officials from the Department of Transportation when asked about Grand Del Mar's non-permitted heliport back in June of last year.
New documents obtained as part of a public records request shows Voss denying any wrongdoing at Doug Manchester's flagship report. "Please be assured that we are not operating a heliport," wrote Voss on June 20, 2012 to transportation authorities.
Word about a new heliport at the Grand Del Mar spread quickly shortly after the resort announced the new amenity in a February 25 post on Facebook. "Touch Down. Check In. However you arrive, we look forward to welcoming you to The Grand life," read the post, which has since been taken down-- we reported on the helipad back in November.
Less than two weeks after the plug on Facebook, the City Attorney's office sent a letter to Grand Del Mar's attorney, Paul Robinson, ordering the resort to "cease" any and all heliport operations at the hotel.
Then on June 6, Voss, received another letter, this time from a state aviation officer. "It has come to our attention that helicopters have been landing at the Grand Del Mar," reads the letter. "Your facility does not have a State-permitted heliport and does not appear to meet any heliport permit exemption criteria.
"Helicopter operations at your hotel must cease and desist until heliport operations are authorized."
The aviation officer ordered the removal of any markings, and to "de-energize the lighting system."
Despite promoting the heliport on their Facebook page, Voss denied having a dedicated helipad on resort grounds.
"The site in question is designed to accomodate multiple purposes such as vehicle displays, fitness classes, private banquet events as well as other activities in conjunction with resort operations."
Voss then mentioned the infrequent use of helicopters at the resort. "While helicopters have landed at the resort on rare occasions, we believed this was a lawful activity as the owner/operator of private land."
Added Voss: "We have declined all landing and removed all objects around this multi-use concrete pad which could indicate a helipad. Only the concrete pad, supporting pathway and landscape lights remain, which are necessary for safe use of the area for activities other than helicopter landings."
Of course, this isn't the first time that Doug Manchester has tried to sneak projects by the City. As we reported in November, the City has fined Manchester before for unauthorized construction projects at the resort. In 2007, Manchester Resorts agreed to pay $250,000 as part of a settlement agreement with the City Attorney over the infractions.
Those violations, however, still exist. So, earlier this month, as reported by CityBeat's Kelly Davis, the City filed a lawsuit against the Grand Del Mar. The resort and City have since settled with Manchester agreeing to pay $87,000.
Read these articles on the history of the infractions:
Read the letters here: