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ZBA approves height exception for new ride at Six Flags

Date: 8/1/2012

By Debbie Gardner

AGAWAM — The new ride proposed by Six Flags New England will be going up — literally — in the near future.

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved construction of the 385-foot tall Star Flyer on July 30. The vote was 3 to 0 in favor, with a stipulation that the completed ride be no higher than 410 feet.

Construction of the new ride required special permit approval by both the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals because the Star Flyer's projected height exceeds the town's 200-foot zoning ordinance limit on buildings.

Doreen Prouty, ZBA chairperson, said the board, which conducted a public hearing on the special permit on July 23, got an improved understanding of the overall impact the proposed new ride would have on the park's skyline and abutting residences during a site visit on July 25.

"It's [going to be] right next to the Cyclone," Prouty said. "By going [to the park] we saw where the ride is going to be put [and] we got a better feel for how tall the ride is going to be."

She said park officials provided the board with a graphic that "did a better job of showing how tall the building is going to be" than the illustrations presented at the ZBA public hearing on July 23.

The new ride, which is similar in design to the Crime Wave, features swings that are attached to a central hub that is hoisted nearly 400 feet into the air and rotated. It will replace a ride that Prouty described as a "giant swing" that is located in the north end of the park.

One resident, Mary Roncalli-Langone, expressed concern over the potential for an increase in the noise level that might affect nearby residents, should the Star Flyer, which will be located near the Main Street fence, be approved. Prouty said the board viewed a YouTube video of the ride at another park, during which "there was nobody screaming" and the riders just seemed to be enjoying the view.

"It's not anticipated to be a noise producer, or a scream producer," she added.

The YouTube video of the ride, which is called the Sky Screamer at other Six Flags parks, can be viewed at

Prouty said the ZBA was awaiting Fire Department approval before giving the final OK to construction of the ride. That approval was received in the Office of Planning and Community Development on July 26.

Six Flags New England was contacted for information about and illustrations of the proposed Star Flyer, but declined to release information at this time, pending its planned park-wide capital improvements announcement in the coming weeks.