Destin Helicopter Activity Raises Concerns for City Officials

During most of December Destin's Harbor Walk is empty.

But spring arrives in a few short months, brining thousands to the area.

With that many people are in one place, safety is always a concern.

And that's what Destin City officials say they have in mind as they discuss aircraft taking off and landing from waterways.

"Back in the spring and summer we had some issues with some helicopters and only recently have we heard from the council to draft an ordinance,” said Ken Gallander, Destin’s Director of Community Development.

The city wants all aircraft companies working out of the Destin Airport.

Okaloosa County implemented a similar ordinance and Destin officials are eager to follow.

"With Okaloosa County, their ordinance is referencing a lot of data about the congestion and a conflict of the water activities with East Pass and Crab Island and our harbor is very congested,” said Gallander. “So adding this level of aircraft activity is raising some concerns with those conflicts."

Gallander says regulations have never been in place, because the city never thought this topic would come up for discussion.

For business owners along the harbor, their issue is safety as well.

"I think the overall consensus of a lot of people is that this harbor is so congested as it is and it becomes a problem even in the summer time, of all the traffic trying to flow out of this harbor,” said Scott Robson, Captain of the Phoenix Charter Boat. “Then in the middle of all of that a helicopter coming in and trying to land on all that."

The ordinance still has to be sent to the city's local Planning Agency for review.


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