TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — After Churchill Downs’ 150-foot hotel was approved for construction in March, the Federal Aviation Administration is once again reviewing the proposal.
According to Monica Newhouse with Newhouse and Associates and the Terre Haute Regional Airport’s consultants, upon further review, the FAA determined that building a hotel of that height anywhere on the property off of East Margaret Drive, where the casino and the hotel will be built, would interfere with one approach procedure.
The Terre Haute Regional Airport is located nearby.
When building near an airport, Newhouse said several things must be taken into consideration including height, interference and impact on arrival and departure procedures. The Terre Haute Regional Airport determined that the hotel’s height was not a factor.
After coordinating with the City of Terre Haute, Churchill Downs moved the hotel to a different site on the purchased property. Due to this change, another Form 7460 was submitted to the FAA for approval. The FAA cited the second form due to a hazard concerning the hotel’s height.
Churchill Downs proposed to move the hotel back to the first proposed location, but the FAA said its original approval was an error and the building’s height would be a risk no matter where it was located.
The FAA will have a final determination on what happens next.
Churchill Downs has offered to install warning lights on the hotel. Another possible solution is to reduce the hotel’s height.
“The [Terre Haute Regional] Airport doesn’t want to lose functionality. On the other hand, it’s hard to defend when the FAA made a mistake,” Newhouse added.
Representatives with Churchill Downs provided the following comment,
“We are currently awaiting final determination from the FAA. As always, we are eager to work with local government officials in the best interest of both the project and all community stakeholders.”
The Federal Aviation Administration provided the following statement,
The FAA does not issue permits. It makes evaluations about possible obstructions to aircraft flight paths. This evaluation involving the casino building has not reached a final determination.
“The FAA does not have the authority to limit building heights nor stop construction. By law, developers must give the FAA the opportunity to evaluate proposed structures near airports to determine whether they could pose a hazard to aircraft or interfere with navigation aids. After the evaluation is completed, building decisions are made by local governments.”