Ferndale to Vote Monday on Drone Ban

essentialTOPtempFerndale to Vote Monday on Drone Bannew way 01 ping pong

(Crystal A. Proxmire, April 26, 2015)

The City of Ferndale is scheduled to vote Monday on an ordinance that would ban all drone use within the city limits, with the exception that it specifically allows it for law enforcement or on one’s own property.

The ordinance comes as drone technology is becoming more accessible to the public. Drones are used for a number of purposes, including:

-Commercial photography and filming

-Wedding photography and filming

-Event photography and filming

-News photography and filming

-Arborists using drones to inspect trees

-Landscape planning

-Construction applications like building and roof inspection711 ad pizza

-Site planning and surveying

-Recreational use

-Promotional videos

-Documentary production

-Band, dance and performance groups using drones to improve their routines

-Sports teams using drones to share their games and improve their games

-Real estate agents and destination locations using drones to better showcase their properties

-Delivery of items

The proposed ordinance calls for an all-out ban, though Councilperson Greg Pawlica said he will bring up the possibility of a permit process on Monday.

Pawlica explained the rational behind the ban, stating “Council was contacted back in December about concerns of using unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drones) within the city; about the misuse of drones, but more importantly the concern that within a highly dense community, drones that experience malfunctions could cause serious harm to individuals and property. Unlike operating one of these devices in a state or federal park (Grand Canyon, Yosemite Park, etc.) where should the device malfunction, it lisa schmidt lawwould most likely hit the ground, a tree, or the side of a mountain. Within a densely populated city like Ferndale, it would most likely hit someone’s personal property, or a person.

“Keep in mind that these devices do not require training, a license, or registration. If a residence discovers that a drone in infringing on their personal space, there is no way to connect the device to the owner. The owner is more anonymous than someone on the internet using a fake name….at least on the internet you can trace a communication back to an individual…with drones there are no connections. An individual walking down the street with a cell phone can sneak up to someone’s window and take photos…though the camera and the owner are directly connected and could be caught together. An individual operating a drone does so with complete anonymity…they could fly the device to someone’s window and take photos and quickly escape without anyone being able to trace the drone to the operator.

“The ordinance does not restrict residents from owning drones…residents are encouraged to operate these devices in wide open sparsely populated areas outside of the city. There is one issue that I will be raising on Monday and that is the city needs to allow special instances for the use of drones, For example, if special events, like Dream Cruise, or DIY Festival want to utilize drones for their events (media, etc) then a special permit procedure will need to be put into place.”waterwork

The FAA has weighed in on drone use, providing guidelines and not a ban. From FAA.gov:

The FAA has partnered with several industry associations to promote Know Before You Fly, a campaign to educate the public about using unmanned aircraft safely and responsibly. Individuals flying for hobby or recreation are strongly encouraged to follow safety guidelines, which include:

  • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
  • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums
  • Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
  • Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraftnicholas-schrock-allstate

The statutory parameters of a model aircraft operation are outlined in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012) (PDF). Individuals who fly within the scope of these parameters do not require permission to operate their UAS; any flight outside these parameters (including any non-hobby, non-recreational operation) requires FAA authorization. For example, using a UAS to take photos for your personal use is recreational; using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a non-recreational operation.

More about the Know Before You Fly campaign

Read the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (PDF)

Read the Do’s and Don’ts of Model Aircraft Operations

View FAA YouTube videos on safe model aircraft operations.

The “Model Aircraft Do’s and Don’ts” (PDF)

A recent article in Downtown Publications explored the benefits of drone use in Michigan, and the challenges of trying to regulate it.seed_raylon_leaks_may_ Dec14

“There has never been any enforcement action taken against anyone for commercial use of a drone against anyone by the FAA.  It has never happened because there is nothing to back up their argument in court,” said DroneLawJournal.com author and Connecticut attorney Peter Sachs.

According to Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, it’s estimated that the economic impact of drones in Michigan will total more than $31 million in 2015, adding 322 jobs.  By 2020 this number could be 1,117 jobs and $1.08 billion.

Also according to Downtown Publications, “While the proposed rules by the FAA are still being considered, some legal experts say the only rule that currently applies to drones states that ‘no person shall operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”

Ferndale City Council will take up the topic at the Monday, April 27 City Council meeting, 7pm at Ferndale City Hall.

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