Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Beach Helicopter is 'back at it': Tourism helicopter company plans to offer flights for spring

 After a brief lull, work has picked back up at the future site of Beach Helicopter.

"We just wanted to get through the holidays and now we are back at it," said Kim Langford, owner of the tourism helicopter company.

Once work is completed, Beach Helicopter will offer residents and visitors sightseeing flights along the Emerald Coast from a 6,000-square-foot helipad on their property, which is located on a parcel of land between BankTrust and Longhorn Steakhouse that abuts U.S. Hwy. 98 and Commons Drive.

Since submitting their application for a development order, Beach Helicopter has come under scrutiny from area residents, who were concerned with the safety of helicopters taking off and landing near their homes along Commons Drive.

Kelly Plantation resident Don Schroeder filed a petition against the development order, citing noise, noxious fumes and sand and dirt that would be blown around from the helicopters taking off and landing.

“It's more of an unsafe thing than it is anything else," he told The Log Monday, adding that he still had questions that he would like to see answered. "What happens if the company goes belly up? Does the permit stay with the company or the actual site?"

According to county officials, a development order and a building permit are not the same and are treated differently if they were to be transferred to a new owner. A development order, which is tied to a parcel identification number, goes with the property and is only good for one year if construction doesn't begin.

A building permit on the other hand, would require a new owner to work with state agencies to see if the permit could be transferred, according to Marissa Martinez, a county planner.

Originally slated to open in December, Langford said Beach Helicopter plans to start offering flights in the next couple of months.

"We're ready to proceed and are hoping to be open by spring break," she said.

Timberview Helicopters, a competing tourism company, is currently flying but has been relegated to taking off and landing at the Destin Airport after a long battle over appropriate locations with city and county officials.

Source:  http://www.thedestinlog.com

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