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Sun, Oct 21, 2007

New Jersey Ferris Wheel Rejected By FAA

333-Foot Wheel Could Interfere With TEB Traffic

A giant Ferris wheel a developer wants to build at the Xanadu entertainment complex in New Jersey will hamper air traffic safety at Teterboro Airport, (TEB) according to a determination by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Xanadu developer has two choices: make the 33-story wheel smaller, or convince the FAA it will not interfere with Teterboro flights.

"Colony Capital Acquisitions' engineers will work with regulators so the wheel complies with safety standards, even if it means a smaller one," said company spokesman Tim White to North Jersey Media Group.

White said despite the determination, New Jerseyans should expect to see it spinning when the $2 billion shopping and entertainment complex opens in November 2008.

FAA officials told Colony developers they would only allow a wheel no taller than 190 feet. Any structure taller than 286 feet would have a "substantial adverse effect" to the air safety of aircraft flying in and out of Teterboro, only three miles from the proposed location.

"We don't have any legal authority to stop a company from building a structure, but the majority of the time, they take our determinations very seriously," FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said.

The FAA has also said a 289 foot-tall roller coaster at Xanadu would be hazardous to air safety. Colony earlier said they scrapped plans for the roller coaster, but asked the FAA in July to study its effects on air traffic.

Officials with the New Jersey Sports Authority and Exposition, who approved Xanadu for construction, were not aware of any FAA objections.

"There is no doubt that if the FAA has concerns about the height of anything at Xanadu, then that has to be looked at and addressed," Goldberg said.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association spokesman Chris Dancy weighed in on the giant ride, saying the organization opposes it if wheel does not meet FAA standards.

"Such structures would likely alter how aircraft approach and depart Teterboro, which might lead to a reduction in the amount of traffic. Less traffic at Teterboro would mean more landings and takeoffs at the metropolitan area's major hubs, which are already stressed," Dancy said. "There is really not a lot of leeway in reconfiguring departures and arrivals."

The nearly 400-foot wheel's proposed location is in proximity of three of the nation's busiest airports. Xanadu developers, realizing this, told regulators to study its impact on air safety.

Xanadu's developers bill the wheel as the largest in North America, and tout it as one of the attractions that help distinguish the complex from a mega mall. One time around the wheel with a view of New York City would take about 25 minutes.

Some local residents are happy with the FAA determination. Lane Viviano fears losing sight of the Manhattan skyline from his condominium if the 333-foot Ferris wheel is allowed to be constructed.

"They want to pollute the sky with this structural graffiti," he said. "It's another form of air pollution, if you think about it."

FMI: www.teb.com/CommutingTravel/airports/html/teb.html, www.meadowlandsxanadu.com

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