Warren City Councilwoman to propose city drone law

local drones

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – They were at the top of many Christmas lists, right up there with hoverboards.

There are a lot more drones in the sky today than there were just two weeks ago. Some communities are already regulating them. Others say they want to.

Drones are unmanned, remote-control aerial devices that range in size and are usually equipment with a camera or video-recording device.

Warren Councilwoman Helen Rucker will propose a new law next week that would restrict people from flying drones in Warren.

She told the Tribune-Chronicle, “I am worried who would be responsible if a drone is flown over the amphitheater, or at a program at [Warren G.] Harding, and it crashes into someone in the crowd.”

Under the proposed legislation, “the city would prohibit the use of drones for gathering visual images, taking physical impressions, making audio recordings and obtaining data involving personal or business interests without permission. Drone pilots also would be prohibited from flying in any airspace below 400 feet within or over Warren city limits and from taking off and landing in the city,” according to the Tribune-Chronicle.

They also would not be allowed to operate over any open air assemblies, schools or school events, hospitals, places of worship, prisons or police stations without the property owner’s permission.

It does not prohibit the use of commercial drones.

The village of McDonald passed a law in November to regulate drone use. Anyone who wants to use a drone there has to register with the village for free and follow the village guidelines.

“For McDonald, we didn’t want to infringe on anyone’s civil liberties and still continue to have a safe environment for all our residents,” said McDonald Mayor Glenn Holmes.

Holmes said drone users should not fly them over another person’s personal space, over crowds or at night. Nothing should be attached to a drone that isn’t supposed to be there.

The bill going in front of Warren City Council would also require drone users to pay an annual license — $250 per year — and they would have carry insurance for any damage that their drone may cause. Those not complying could face jail time.

Former Youngstown Judge Pat Kerrigan, who runs the Oak Hill Collaborative, says he finds the law unnecessary.

“That’s kind of outrageous, because certainly to some people that are commercial and making a lot of money, that’s one thing,” he said. “But then you have a lot of people that are just hobbyists.”

Kerrigan knows a thing or two about drones. The Oak Hill Collaborative offers classes on how to use drones safely. He thinks the drone law in McDonald is fine, but the one proposed in Warren is too restrictive.

“Registration fee, all sorts of limitations on where you can go and how you can record sound, I think that’s unnecessary and really inappropriate in a free society,” he said.

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