Clifton Park considers restricting use of drones

Josh Barth, 22, has been flying his drone for the past year over the Florida coastline of Delray Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and is trying to turn his hobby into a business. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/MCT)Josh Barth, 22, has been flying his drone for the past year over the Florida coastline of Delray Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and is trying to turn his hobby into a business. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/MCT)

By  Cady Kuzmich
Gazette Reporter

 

Clifton Park — Community members had an opportunity to discuss growing concerns over drones, an increasingly popular technology, at a public hearing in Clifton Park August 15.

 

Drones are defined as any “unmanned aerial vehicle that can fly under the control of a remote pilot or via a geographical positions system guided pilot mechanism.”

 

Clifton Park Town Board members gathered to discuss adopting a new local law that would prohibit the use of drones within or above the town’s public parks and preserves.

 

Councilman James Whalen said the proposed law was “not the result of any one specific event or one specific concern, but rather the result of numerous comments and concerns expressed by residents and received by the Town over the last year or so.”

 

Whalen said there was “a healthy discussion” between the Town Board and community members.  “I very much appreciate the passion and enthusiasm that the speakers have for the hobby.  At the same time, there were speakers who are non-flyers who highlighted specific instances of dangerous or harassing encounters with UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and their operators,” Whalen said.   

 

“The challenge facing the Town is to find a balance between the ability for enthusiasts to fly their vehicles while at the same time protecting and preserving the Town’s open space and protecting non-flyers from dangerous or harassing encounters with UAV operators,” he added.  

 

The board has not yet decided to pass the proposed local law.

 

Councilwoman Amy Standaert said,  “This is a relatively new concept that requires much more research, conversations and a better understanding as technology advances.”

She added, “When we do consider UAV legislation, I am confident that we can come to a solution that protects privacy, ensures the safety of our residents and provides guidelines for appropriate UAV recreational use.“