Helicopter flights limited to airport after unanimous vote

Timberview Helicopters

During the Destin Seafood Festival, Timberview Helicopters could be seen taking off and landing from a barge in the Destin harbor.

Matt Algarin | The Log
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012 at 03:30 PM.

With a unanimous vote Tuesday, Okaloosa County Commissioners have essentially sequestered Timberview Helicopters to operating out of the Destin Airport.

“I think what we are doing is fulfilling our obligation of reasonable zoning regulation,” recently elected Commissioner Nathan Boyles said. “We’re not running Timberview out of Okaloosa County, we’re not even running them out of Destin; they can move to the airport and operate.”

Tuesday’s meeting was the second and final public hearing where county leaders would discuss proposed amendments to the land development code, which would limit the operations of helicopters, gliders, hot air balloons and other sightseeing operations to the airport zoning district.

In June, the county imposed a 180-day moratorium on helicopter sightseeing companies. But that prohibition expires in December.

Since moving its operations to the airport earlier this year, Timberview Helicopters owner Justin Johnson says his company has lost 70 percent of its revenue.

Over the past few months, the tourism helicopter company has been seen taking off and landing from barges in Destin harbor and on Crab Island, much to the dismay of some locals.

“We consider it a safety issue, as well as a noise issue because we are not able to sit out on our balconies; we were not able to open our doors because the noise levels were so loud,” East Pass Towers resident Virginia Hickman told commissioners.

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