The Forsyth County commission has approved proposed changes to rules allowing helipads and heliports in the county's unified development code.
The measure requires a conditional use permit for either of the helicopter landing/takeoff areas on various properties.
Commissioners approved the measure 3-1 at Thursday's regular meeting. Commissioner Jim Harrell opposed it and Commissioner Brian Tam was not there.
Harrell also cast the lone vote against an amendment to the motion, which restricted commercial helipads and heliports from being within 200 feet of a residential or agriculturally zoned property.
Chairman Charles Laughinghouse made the motion to amend. He questioned the rationale for restricting it to 500 feet, part of the original measure.
Vanessa Bernstein, a senior long-range planner with the county, said the suggestion came from the planning commission.
"A commercial facility would have more traffic and facilities for parking, storage and refueling and so forth," Bernstein said. "They thought perhaps a larger setback should be required."
"In regards to commercial versus private, it seems to me a lot of the private helipads ... they are probably getting more use than the commercial ones," he said.
According to the UDC, a helipad is a location where helicopters take off and land, while a heliport is a facility or structure used routinely for landings and takeoffs, which may include facilities for maintenance and repair of helicopters.
The UDC now reads that "commercial helicopter landing areas shall be at least 200 feet from all property lines adjacent to residential and agricultural zoning districts ... private helicopter landing areas shall be at least 200 feet from all property lines," while a 50 foot setback is required of air ambulances.
In February 2007, commissioners enacted a 180-day moratorium on new applications for conditional use permits for heliports.