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Powered paraglider pilot seeks takeoff, landing permission

Council leery of safety, liability; votes to prohibit practice in town

PRINCETON — After a Princeton man was denied permission by the Princeton Park District Board to land his powered paraglider in Zearing Park, he took his argument to the Princeton City Council.

During Monday’s meeting, Andrew Sims asked council members to consider allowing him to fly and land his manned aircraft in the city’s public park. Sims flew his powered paraglider twice in the park before he was told by the park district he no longer was allowed to do so.

“I felt unjust to my sport if I didn’t come and say, ‘Here’s the deal. It’s a really safe thing,” he said.

While Sims addressed the council about what exactly a powered paraglider was, what it did and minimal risk associated with flying one, the city council unanimously voted to prohibit manned aircrafts on public grounds. The council must approve a second and final reading of this ordinance on Oct. 7 before it goes into effect.

City council member Jerry Neumann said safety and liability are the prevailing issues with this matter. He asked Sims whether he had a Plan B if the council’s final vote did not go in his favor. Sims said he was looking into a Plan B.

Aside from the safety of people in Zearing Park, Mayor Joel Quiram said another concern out there is the medical helicopter that flies over the park to get to and from Perry Memorial Hospital.

Sims said he could see helicopters in the air from a mile away and would be able to land and be on the ground before they reached the park. Quiram said this sort of issue was new to council members, and they would need to look into it further before the final vote at next month’s meeting on Oct. 7.

Also, the council:

-Approved the final reading of an ordinance allowing the sale of land in the city’s Tech Park to JCOO Properties, LLC, owned by Josh and Courtney Mabry. They plan to develop flex buildings for a variety of uses. The total cost for property is $55,440.

-Commissioners OK’d the final reading of an ordinance for the annexation of property on the corner of East Thompson Street and Route 26 into the city. Jonathan and Julianne Mabry plan to construct a housing project on the land, and the annexation will allow them access to the city sewer and water hookup. The council also advanced a first reading of an ordinance to the second and final reading to rezone this property from a single-family use to a multi-family use for the housing project.

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