A bill clear­ing the way for eas­i­er con­struc­tion of drone ports through­out the State of Flori­da is on its way to the House floor after zoom­ing through its final com­mit­tee stop, reports floridapolitics.com. The bill now awaits a full and final vote by the Cham­ber.

The House Infra­struc­ture Strate­gies Com­mit­tee vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly for the mea­sure (HB 1071) by Repub­li­can Reps. Wyman Dug­gan of Jack­sonville and Spencer Roach of North Fort Myers.

The arti­cle states, “The pan­el also sup­port­ed an amend­ment Dug­gan prof­fered to line the bill’s lan­guage up with that of its Sen­ate com­pan­ion (SB 1068), which also now awaits con­sid­er­a­tion by the full cham­ber.”

Rep. Wyman Dug­gan of Jack­sonville

The leg­is­la­tion defines the terms “drone port” and “drone deliv­ery ser­vice” in state statutes, with a drone port defined as “a stand­alone build­ing” up to 36 feet tall and 1,500 sq. ft or less, locat­ed in a non­res­i­den­tial area used to launch and land small, unmanned air­craft that deliv­er goods.

The bill also exempts drone ports from most fire safe­ty man­dates in the Flori­da Build­ing Code, which Roach said pre­vi­ous­ly would help save com­pa­nies “over USD1 mil­lion per struc­ture”. How­ev­er, the amend­ed lan­guage of the bill requires drone ports taller than one storey to include at least one stair­well.

The arti­cle con­tin­ues, “The pro­posed mea­sure would still large­ly pro­hib­it local gov­ern­ments from with­hold­ing occu­pa­tion­al licens­es from drone deliv­ery ser­vice com­pa­nies for non­com­pli­ance with zon­ing man­dates, mak­ing the mea­sure a “pre­emp­tion bill,” accord­ing to SB 1068 spon­sor Jay Collins. But the amend­ment allows coun­ties and cities to enforce min­i­mum set­back and land­scap­ing reg­u­la­tions “gen­er­al­ly applic­a­ble to per­mit­ted uses” in the area where a giv­en drone port is built.

Dug­gan said the amend­ments stemmed from con­ver­sa­tions he’d had with the Flori­da League of Cities, which joined Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­i­ty, the Flori­da Fire Chiefs Asso­ci­a­tion and Drone­Up, Walmart’s drone deliv­ery ser­vice, in sig­nalling sup­port for the bill. He com­ment­ed, “This is absolute­ly a bill that the com­mit­tee process made bet­ter.”
Orlan­do Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep. Anna Eska­mani not­ed the changes addressed some of the con­cerns she’d raised in pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sions with Dug­gan and Roach.

Eska­mani said, “It makes me feel real­ly grate­ful that the process allows for us to have those con­ver­sa­tions and try to make a bill bet­ter for all the stake­hold­ers involved.”

Drone­Up Col­lab­o­rat­ing With Wal­mart

Drone ports began facil­i­tat­ing deliv­er­ies in Decem­ber across Flori­da at Wal­mart stores in Bran­don, Cler­mont, New Port Richey, Tam­pa and Val­ri­co. Drone­Up deliv­ers goods with­in a 1‑mile radius of sev­en stores in those areas — a ser­vice Wal­mart Plus mem­bers get for free and for which non­mem­bers pay USD3.99 per deliv­ery.

Dur­ing the Sen­ate bill’s final com­mit­tee stop last week, sev­er­al peo­ple expressed con­cerns over the tech­nol­o­gy, par­tic­u­lar­ly its poten­tial noise impacts, inter­fer­ence with exist­ing infra­struc­ture, and a pos­si­ble loop­hole in the bill’s lan­guage that will allow com­pa­nies to bun­dle drone-relat­ed facil­i­ties togeth­er to cre­ate oper­a­tion bases far larg­er than what the bill envi­sions.

Collins attempt­ed to alle­vi­ate those con­cerns, not­ing that the height at which drones fly mit­i­gates noise impacts and the chance of acci­dents occur­ring. He point­ed out, “Drone deliv­ery ser­vices are only going to grow more com­mon and the time is now to pre­pare for that inevitabil­i­ty, whether we want to or not.”

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(News Source: www.floridapolitics.com)