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)