Chopper business still flying high after court win

People who live near a helicopter tour company in Myrtle Beach lost another round Wednesday in their effort to shut down the business, but it appears the court battle over Helicopter Adventures is not over.

The homeowners plan to take their case to a higher court.

The complaints about Helicopter Adventures began almost immediately after the company started flying last May.

Residents of the nearby Plantation Point community claim the choppers are a safety problem, because they're near a residential area and they're too loud.

"You're embarrassed to have your friends over. You don't want to even be out there. It's aggravating," said Richard Hinde, the Plantation Point resident who filed the legal complaint.

Hinde and other homeowners first took their concerns to the Horry County Board of Zoning Appeals, which ruled in their favor that the business did not comply with county zoning laws.

But the business's owner, Freddie Rick, took the case to court and won.

Judge Hyman ruled in January that the helipad falls under the definition of a sight-seeing depot, which is permitted under the business's current zoning.

The neighbors asked Hyman to reconsider his ruling. He denied their motion Wednesday.

Rick says Hyman made the right decision, that his business goes beyond what the law requires for safety procedures.

"And noise is also always a concern," Rick said. "And we are always in compliance with the noise laws and ordinances of the county."

Rick says his tour company has done everything it needed to do to comply with the law.

Hinde believes the case law is on his side and he can still win at the appeals court level.

"If you sit down and you read over the case law and you read over the opinions, the word depot is fairly easy to look up. It doesn't mean anything to do with helicopters," Hinde said.

Hinde and the homeowners have 30 days to take Wednesday's decision to the South Carolina Court of Appeals.

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