110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
DeLand still debating 2 skydive centers
By Jen Horton
posted Feb 15, 2011 - 8:54:21am
There are many factors to consider in deciding whether to allow two skydiving businesses at the DeLand Municipal Airport, but the real concern, according to DeLand City Attorney Darren Elkind, is safety.
DeLand is the skydiving capital of the world, and Skydive DeLand has been the only game in town for about 30 years.
FreeFall Express wants to move in on the game. The company wants to sublease space at the airport and put out its shingle.
A decision about whether to approve the sublease has been delayed for various reasons, including three mediation sessions in October, December and January, designed to encourage Skydive DeLand and FreeFall Express to agree on operational procedures that would allow both businesses to function safely on the small airport.
The sublease was back on the City Commission agenda Feb. 7.
Attorney Elkind said DeLand’s airport is a public airport, and the city is not allowed to grant exclusive franchises. He said the city can limit aviation uses, but those limitations have to be clearly based on safety or operating concerns, not preference for one business over another.
To determine whether two skydiving businesses can operate safely at DeLand’s airport, two studies will be done.
The city has contracted with Wilbur Smith Associates to perform a safety study. That study is in progress, and should be completed in a couple of weeks.
After the results of that study are known, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will analyze the issue. The FAA study will take about 30 days. The FAA report will not give a definitive decision or ruling on the topic, but should provide additional information for the City Commission to consider.
City commissioners decided to, again, table a vote on the sublease until the safety analyses are finished.
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