The Sullivan Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit on Tuesday night for AirEvac Lifeteam to construct a helipad and modular shelter on a piece of property near Missouri Baptist Hospital.
The CUP comes with two conditions after the air ambulance service requested it.
Sullivan City Administrator J.T. Hardy told The Missourian on Wednesday morning that the conditions are that the permit expires 10 years from date of completion and that AirEvac gets approval from the Sullivan Fire Protection District, specifically its fire marshal.
“We do anticipate opening a base in Sullivan,” said Julie Heavrin, public relations manager for AirEvac Lifeteam’s main office in O’Fallon. “Our next step there is to move forward with plans and get our necessary permits.
“We’re not sure of the time line, but we’re moving forward with this.”
Before the CUP hearing, Heavrin would not confirm or deny the air ambulance service was looking for a location outside of St. Clair. She still would not say if opening a location in Sullivan means the company is pulling out of St. Clair.
“I have no idea at this point what we’re going to do in St. Clair,” Heavrin told The Missourian on Wednesday. “We’re looking at our options. We don’t know whether those options include staying.
“One of the options is, however, to pull out of St. Clair.”
AirEvac will build its pad and storage hangar at 673 Sappington Bridge Road in Sullivan.
“With things being up in the air in St. Clair and with the several different rumors flying around about the airport property there, we need to make sure we have an area in which we can operate safely,” Heavrin said. “What the city of St. Clair is trying to do with the land could impact our future, so we’re responding to that.”
St. Clair has been trying to close its regional airport located on the north side of town for years, and, if successful, use the land for retail development. Closure must be granted by the Federal Aviation Administration because the city obtained federal grants, as late as 2006, to make improvements at the facility.
The issue has been volleyed back and forth between St. Clair officials and the FAA for months, and the city currently is waiting for another response from the FAA on closure. The Missouri Department of Transportation has sided with the city and has said it will not oppose closure.
Hardy earlier had said the property under consideration by AirEvac already is zoned commercial. The land is on the east side of Highway D from Missouri Baptist in Crawford County. Missouri Baptist’s helipad is just west of Highway D and northeast of the hospital itself.
Sullivan already has an air ambulance service, ARCH Air Medical Services, located at its regional airport.
AirEvac has maintained a base in St. Clair since 2005, and a five-year lease was renewed in 2010. The company pays a $300-per-month rental fee for use of hangar space at the St. Clair Regional Airport.