Balloons Aren’t Only For Kids’ Parties

Balloon Testing

You are asked to build a tower but the construction has to go before the zoning board before anything can be done. How do you help make the approval easier? By giving the zoning board pictures of the tower.

Wait, you say. I thought you had to get zoning approval before building the tower?

You do. Because zoning board meetings are open to the public, often it is the public that can delay construction. When the subject of constructing a tower comes up, a lot of people immediately object because they picture the biggest, most dish filled tower they’ve ever seen and that normally is not the type of tower you are constructing. You could just guess and Photoshop a tower in a picture of the general area, but it won’t necessarily be accurate.

This is when you want to do balloon testing.

Balloon testing, using a 36″ balloon to provide a scale of reference for the width of the tower and the size of the appurtenance, allows you to get a realistic view of how the tower will look from all directions. It only costs you one large balloon, a small helium tank, string in the length of your tower height, and time.

Balloon Launch

Go to your tower site and blow up the balloon. Attach the string and make sure the other end is securely fastened to the ground. Release the balloon. This is best done on a day with little or, preferably, no wind. If it’s windy, you will spend more time trying to get useful pictures.

Now you just get in a car and drive in a wide circle around the tower site. Make sure to take multiple shots from every direction; you can’t have too many pictures. The balloon marks the top of your tower. Try to get from the balloon to the ground (if you can see it) in every picture. Shoot pictures from surrounding major residential areas, major intersections, and any areas of concern that have been noted by the local planning commission.

Once you are finished taking more pictures than a fashion shoot, go back to your tower site and collect your balloon. Pack everything up and head back to your office to start choosing your pictures. What you are looking for are clear pictures that show the entire tower (balloon and string) as well as a little bit of the surrounding area. Remember, you are going to be using these pictures to show laypeople who are concerned citizens exactly what this new construction will look like so they can make informed choices. The pictures also benefit the zoning board as well, but they are more familiar with what you are petitioning for. Whenever you attend a zoning board meeting, your job is as an educator.

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