Ordinance banning drones over public spaces dismissed

Published 9:36 pm Friday, February 14, 2020

The Troy City Council is no longer considering an ordinance that would ban the flight of drones over public spaces after speaking with an FAA representative.

Utilities Manager Brian Chandler said that the city spoke with a different FAA representative and received word that regulations may be coming soon that would override the city ordinance.

“They’re supposedly working on regulations,” Chandler said. “How soon or how long that will be we aren’t sure, but we want to be sure to follow whatever guidelines they do or don’t provide for state or local governments.”

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The ordinance would have made it a misdemeanor to pilot a drone above city property, including public parks and other spaces, as well as above city employees.

Flying a drone over people’s heads is already banned by the FAA, however, and Chandler said there are many FAA regulations drone hobbyists need to be aware of to ensure they are not breaking federal laws.

For instance, all drones must be registered with the FAA and may not be flown at night.

The ordinance also would have created a process to permit the flying of drones over public spaces with the mayor and police chief’s approval.

Although the ordinance is no longer being considered, Chandler asked residents not to fly a drone over city property that could risk disturbing employees or damaging public property.

It is of special concern near infrastructure such as city substations, where a drone crash could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to city property as well as causing an extensive power outage.