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Destin Crab Island Sports
DESTIN -- DESTIN - In the summer, Destin's Crab Island is crowded with every kind of watercraft....as well as airborne attractions like helicopters and jet-packs. But that could be changing. County leaders are considering a ban on some aircraft operations.
Laura Hussey "Here at JetPack Destin people strap on this pack and some say they get the ride of their lives. The owner here says the proposed Aircraft Restricted Zone could have a dramatic impact on his business."
Up here, you've got some room to move. Down here on Crab Island, it can be a different story.
Nicole Remele says, "Helicopters and jetpacks trying to land where the boats are trying to navigate...it kind of makes it a little bit dangerous"
The proposed aircraft restricted zone would cover Crab Island and East Pass. Takeoffs and landings on the water would be banned. The rule would cover helicopters, parasails and hang gliders, seaplanes and similar craft, as well as jet packs.
Shannon Neal/Jetpack Destin "It potentially could put us out of business. They're trying to put us out into the bay where it's not as calm, and with currents it's not going to be as safe for our customers"
Shannon Neal's business might face the biggest immediate threat. The only helicopter that operated from east pass has already moved. Parasail boats only fly their chutes in open water. Still, owners of those businesses were among more than fifty who signed a petition against the proposal.
Shannon "It has a potential to affect all the businesses on the water. Once the county gets their hands on water, then they can tweak and change ordinances for the future, expand the boundaries"
The planning commission did not rule in favor of the aircraft restricted zone, but commissioners are considering it anyway. Nicole Remele of the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise says rules are needed, but not so strict they put someone out of business.
Nicole "I do think they need to be able to operate. They're just trying to bring a fun activity here to Destin"
Laura Hussey "There will be another public hearing before commissioners make a final decision."