Indoor skydiving at EPCAL gets OK from ZBA

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Skydive Long Island is looking to build a new indoor skydiving facility in Calverton.
COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Skydive Long Island is looking to build a new indoor skydiving facility in Calverton.

A facility that plans to be taking the ‘sky’ out of ‘skydiving’ got an OK from the town’s zoning board of appeals last week, and will be moving forward with a proposed indoor sky diving facility — essentially a vertical wind tunnel — at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Skydive Long Island, which currently offers skydiving — the real kind — at EPCAL, is proposing a 44,000 square-foot building adjacent to its hangar at EPCAL. The proposed building needed variances to allow its height to be 62 feet, which exceeds the town’s 40-foot height limit in this property’s zone, and to be 25 feet from the property in the rear yard, instead of the required 50 feet.

Ray Maynard, the company’s owner, said at a previous ZBA meeting that at the indoor sky diving location, people in a wind tunnel stand in a cylinder that’s about 14 feet high and 16 feet wide and are lifted off the ground and suspended in air by the giants fans.

“It’s a round chamber with netting on the bottom and you just step out into the air,” he explained.

The proposed facility would have fans in the floor that generate winds of up to 175 mph, according to Mr. Maynard.

Jim DeLuca, representing Mr. Maynard, said there are already other buildings at EPCAL that are over 60 feet high. The indoor flight chamber, as he called it, needs to be 62 feet high because of the fans inside the chamber.

There’s also a net on top so you don’t hit the roof, he said.

“Most of the customers are going to be non-sky divers,” Mr. Maynard said.

The proposed indoor flight chamber would operate year-round, he said, adding that the indoor facility will be expected to attract between 50,000 and 100,000 people per year.

Skydive’s Long Island’s primary sky diving business, where people jump out of an airplane, ‘is a spring and summer operation,” Mr. DeLuca said. “To make it more viable, it has to be utilized 12 months a year.”

He said he’s hoping to be able to break ground on the project by late fall this year.

The project also received Industrial Development Agency tax incentives earlier this month, giving it a 100 percent property tax exemption on the value of the improvements for the first five years, with the percent of the exemption dropping 10 percent per year after that, until it pays full tax after a decade. Those exemptions apply to town, school, county and fire district taxes.

The ZBA approved the variances by a 4-0 vote, with ZBA member Lisa Worthington absent. The decision came at the end of a three hour meeting, and no one from the public spoke on Skydive’s hearing, which was last on the agenda.

Mr. Maynard will next need to get site plan approval from the Town Board for the project.