Monday, February 23, 2009

But will solar palace have a helicopter pad?

Will the helicopter guy appear again before City Council? Tonight, the council is supposed to decide on a rezoning that's been getting a lot of, well, snickering in private. What people are saying, all off the record of course, is: "Watch the helicopters video." If you do a YouTube search on the petitioner's name, David Thompson, and "helicopters" you'll get a video of a City Council public hearing from Jan. 28, 2002.

I hear it's one of the "greatest hits" around City Hall.

(4:48 PM addendum: It's come to my attention that longtime devotees of this video might like to read the actual minutes from the council meeting where the helicopter guy appeared. Here's a link. Check Page 11. I also hear some Charlotte folks have memorized the guy's speech and recite it at parties.)

Here's a link to a story when the project was first proposed last summer. And here's a link to an artist's rendering of the finished project. The idea is for a 12-unit multifamily building that would maximize solar energy principles. The proposal "is consistent with adopted land use plans and policies," the planning staff analysis says. But they're recommending against an OK, because of "the 60-foot height and the architecture associated with the project."

It does bring up an interesting issue: If a project is consistent with the plans, should the council vote it down because it's ugly or because of any questions about the developer? I asked assistant city attorney Bob Hagemann, who said rezoning decisions are considered "legislative" and in such a decision they can "exercise their legislative judgment and discretion."
(One more thing, in this update. Some commenters think this posting is about solar energy or area plans. Um, folks, just watch the video. MN)

Here is the YouTube video. Note: The title isn't mine. It's from the video on YouTube.com:

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

City council votes down rezoning all of the time. Here is a reason I would vote the project down. The building is covered in solar panels which will create a harsh glare and dangerous distraction for drivers. Vote is down, end of discussion.

Louie said...

This is so Charlotte. The hot topic in development as of late is "green," but only if the building can't be distinguished from a non-green one. Charlotte is encouraging densification near the urban core, but only if it matches all of the BofA backed "themed" projects. Almost every project downtown, or within a 3 mile radius of downtown has the same signature style... what happens when that goes OUT of style?? We knock down the few older buildings in downtown and NoDa, and replace them with something cheaply built that's "shinier." We all complain about the sterility of Charlotte's built environment, yet we oppose anything that's unique. I noticed driving through NoDa the other day that all of the previously colorful little bungalows are now BEIGE. Even the monster pink church on 51 isn't pink anymore. Do we really want to live in Stepford people? Isn't some individuality GOOD??

Anonymous said...

Although I'm all for green building, I don't think this project has been completely thought out by the developer. I have attended meetings where he spoke and there are a lot of unanswered questions. At one point the developer said there would be a commercial component to the project and this is definitely not consistent with the plans for that area. Perhaps the blogger needs to do some additional research...

Anonymous said...

Charlotte:

One step forward, 80 steps back. Once I am laid off I am outta this cesspool.

Anonymous said...

Since it doesn't look like a stereotypical McMansion or a fake textile mill, the locals will obviously oppose it. I say bring it on and bring some cutting edge creativity to this city.

John Keels said...

I am all for solar, wind, etc. However, this building looks suspicious. Kind of an odd looking building really. I don't think I would want it in my city. LOL

Anonymous said...

Keep on snickering you Neanderthals.

Anonymous said...

Well, this “Neanderthal” understands solar panels must follow the track of the sun across the sky to be truly efficient. These panels appear to be fixed. Care to offer an educated explanation “Mr. Anonymous”? If you’re going to produce a sustainable project why go halfway? A partial green project is a sustainable failure.

Anonymous said...

Nice try but the panels are located 360 degrees around the entire building. It can be a rigid structure while gathering the suns rays as the "sun" tracks around the building. Same end result that you are talking about except the sun is doing the tracking instead of the panels.

Anonymous said...

Ok, let me explain something to you in a very elementary fashion. If there are solar panels on the Northwest, North, or Northeastern elevation of this building… this is the DUMBEST sustainable project on the face of the ENTIRE planet! Before you make another comment think about the basics, like the direction of the suns rays in our hemisphere. The Suns rays come from the South in the Northern Hemisphere, not from the North! Ugh, your ignorance is truly painful!

I am a LEED certified professional, I do this for a living.

Anonymous said...

Somebody help me out... are David Thompson and Jerry Reece not the same person?

CLTroguepilot said...

I don't see how my helicopter will fit between this project's magnolia tree and the property line.

FUroguepilot said...

There better be NO helicopters flying 20 feet over this project. The solar panels will shake, and shake, and SHAKE!!!

CLTroguepilot said...

There better not be any ice in this building. Also, I worry the boy scouts at the meeting tonight might get scared.

FUroguepilot said...

If you oppose this project you are a lemmonhead, coward, terrorist p****!

rick b said...

Aside from expressing my concerns about the flat roof of that suspicious-looking building possibly being used as a landing and hangar facility for even more rogue helicopters, I'd like to add to Louie's excellent comments. He says: "We all complain about the sterility of Charlotte's built environment, yet we oppose anything that's unique. I noticed driving through NoDa the other day that all of the previously colorful little bungalows are now BEIGE. Even the monster pink church on 51 isn't pink anymore. Do we really want to live in Stepford people? Isn't some individuality GOOD??"

Tonight, city council will consider a public safety menace even worse than Rogue Helicopters: Inconsistently-designed newspsper vending boxes.

So toxic to a healthy downtown environment are these modular monstrosities, Center City Partners intends to wast...I mean spend $260,000 replacing these evil incarnations with nice, relaxing uniform Stepford newsboxes.

Ummmmm. "World-class", eh? Yeah...they really worry about the urban design faux pas represented by these hideous hulks in Paris, and New York, and Johannesburg, I bet. Charlotte could never be world-class unless government first takes the crucial step of sterilizing our out-of-control newspaper vending box menace.

Seriously...has somebody escaped from a homeowners' association board somewhere and flown on a rogue helicopter to Center City Partners' office? Because this idiocy could only originate in the mind of a really, really bored HOA minor officeholder.

The same guy who checks to make sure that the little pull-knob on your mailbox matches your neighbor's.

Anonymous said...

12 units? that's all? there is no way any city would approve this for under 40 units. If you want to maximize sustainable building habits, you need to still be able to maximize profits. 12 units simply will not cut it. Sustainable building is still more expensive than traditional, meet us developers halfway. As far as the helicopter pilot goes, would you mind flying over that guys house again? I want to see his next tirade.

Anonymous said...

Funny as Hell, but knowning GS it doesn't surprise me.

Nothing like getting chased down by a helo to make you think you're not safe.

Anonymous said...

I continue to be amused by the idea that solar electric is "green". The reality is that photovoltaic cells currently rely on silicon technology that is so carbon intensive in it's manufacture that the manufacture of the typical PV array creates more atmospheric carbon than the generation of it's electrical output will save over it's useful life. In other words, PV arrays are a net negative for the environment.

That may change some day, but anyone installing PV arrays now is not engaging in "green" energy generation. The only practical use for them at the moment is to provide electricity where it can't be generated by less carbon intensive traditional electrical generation. Even if one doesn't care about the carbon issue, the panels, specifically because of the massive enerey inputs, are the single most expensive way to generate electricity available today.

They amount to the epitome of style over substance.

Jumper said...

The latest talking point by those who are against progress and national security, i.e., the "neanderthal right" is that "silicon solar photovoltaic cells release more CO2 in their manufacture than they will offset." This is patently untrue and can be disproved easily. See
<>here

Anonymous said...

What, an environmental wacko is also a helicopter-hallucinating lunatic?

Who'd have made THAT connection?

Anonymous said...

maybe if the guy wasn't a ranting raving lunatic, he would have had a better chance to get his plans passed. Just a thought.