Winter Garden neighbors fight back, put plans for nearby helipad proposal on pause

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Orange County homeowners are fighting the prospect of a noisy neighbor moving in. They don’t want helicopters landing in their backyards. Before any choppers officially took off, neighbors Tuesday night told executives to stay away.

The company, Reigl USA, is already using drones to capture images for mapping purposes, helping police and assisting Duke Energy and FPL track outages and emergencies. 

Now, they want to use a helicopter too and build a landing pad on their property in Winter Garden right next to a lot of homes. 

But, not if these neighbors have anything to say about it.

“What are you adding to the community by being there?” one neighbor asked at a community meeting.

“I moved here for the quiet. I moved here for the quiet and I want it to stay quiet,” one neighbor told Reigl executives. 

There was uproar at a community meeting in Winter Garden as homeowners fought against the proposal for a helipad in their backyard. 

“It’s too close to the home. It’s shaking our home. Vibrating it. Too much noise. Damage to my house,” said neighbor Nick Wilson.

“Nobody wants a heliport.”

Some argued the helipad would harm the wildlife surrounding the nearby lake and disrupt children and veterans with PTSD who might be triggered by the sound of helicopters. 

They suggested the chopper fly from Orlando Executive Airport instead. “You belong in the county or you belong at a small airport.”

The backlash was so extreme, the company decided to put the breaks on the chopper and not move forward for now. 

“The community’s very upset. We get it. It’s not lost on us, and so we’re going to move forward in a rather rational way, but we need to go back and figure out what that rational way is,” said Reigl USA Senior Vice President Jim Van Rens.

Van Rens says one possibility would be to move the location, but he did not specify where. 

With the proposal on pause, despite other reports, there is no plan for the helipad to be discussed or voted on at any future meetings.

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