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updated: 5/7/2014 12:25 AM

Lake in the Hills to get hot air balloon business

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Lake in the Hills residents should soon be able to go up in the air in a different kind of aircraft.

The village board's committee of the whole Tuesday night greenlighted a proposal by a hot-air balloon operator to offer trips from the airport.

Sedona Sunset Balloons, LLC, has been offering hot air balloon rides in the area for more than 30 years, Lake in the Hills Airport Manager Mike Peranich said.

Peranich said the business would sell packages for special occasions, such as Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, engagements and parties.

The company would offer balloon rides from property immediately outside of the airport, on a stretch of grass between Old Pyott and New Pyott roads during the summer.

Officials propose charging the operator $150 for running up to 15 rides yearly. The proposed fee is low primarily because the business is seasonal and rides can only be offered under certain weather conditions, and because "they are not actually on the airport (property)," Peranich said. More than 15 trips will mean additional fees, he said.

Peranich said businesses and the village could potentially advertise on the balloon itself in the future.

"It's a unique business ... high visibility. It's going to potentially have impact on traffic and passers-by," he added.

The presence of hot air balloons near the airport will have minimal impact on flights, said Fred Mullard, village public works director.

The balloon operator also would be able to communicate with pilots by radio and rides will take place mostly around dawn and dusk, he added.

"You know it's going to spark a bunch of curiosity," Village President Paul Mulcahy said.

Mulcahy said his fear of heights would prevent him from taking rides himself, but added that for residents, "it would be really kind of cool."

He added that generating more attention at the airport is good for local businesses.

If approved by the full village board Thursday night, the business could begin offering balloon rides immediately. The agreement would be effective Friday and run through May 8, 2017.

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