Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Temporary use for helicopter tours could become thing of the past in Wilmington, North Carolina



WILMINGTON — Catching a bird’s-eye view of Downtown Wilmington could get tougher if a proposed amendment is passed. The Wilmington’s Planning Commission will vote on Wednesday to amend the land development code to prohibit helicopter tours as a temporary use within city limits. The amendment would not prohibit helicopter tours that leave from permanent airport facilities like ILM or the Cape Fear Regional Jetport, only those requesting temporary use permits

The move comes after City Council discussed several complaints it had received during a July 17 meeting, after which the council directed city staff to process an amendment.

The proposed amendment would state, “Other temporary recreation or entertainment related events or activities such as fairs or concerts except that the use of vehicles with vertical take-off and landing capabilities, including helicopters, for entertainment and recreational use shall be prohibited.”

Currently, “Special recreation or entertainment events, including helicopter tours, are classified as temporary uses and are permitted in commercial and industrial districts subject to the requirements of City Code Section 18-340,” according to documents included in the Planning Commission’s agenda.

While the city claims that helicopter tours are currently classified as temporary use activities, there is nothing in city documents that specifically mention helicopters.

According to the documents, since September of 2016, the city has issued four temporary use permits for helicopter tours. All four have operated from 712 Surry Street and have received a number of complaints due to noise and safety concerns.

City staff conducted research and compared Wilmington to 11 different benchmark cities including Asheville, Savannah, Charleston, and Chattanooga. According to the staff findings only two of the cities (Chattanooga and New Bern) would allow a helicopter tour company to operate as a temporary use, but as of yet have not had a tour company make the request.

Raleigh and Savannah do require special permits for permanent helicopter facilities and only in Charleston, specific regulations have been adopted that prohibit the takeoff and landing of helicopters in the city for entertainment uses.

The Planning Commission will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the City Council’s Chambers to hold the public hearing on this issue as well as several others. If the Planning Commission approves the amendment, it would then have to go before City Council before approved.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://portcitydaily.com

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