NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio – There’s a new push to keep drones grounded in public areas in North Royalton, much to the dismay of drone advocates. Opponents of the proposed legislation argue it makes flying drones anywhere other than front and back yards impossible.
“What’s the point of that? What’s the point of flying it around your house? You want to have it outside so you can explore the world around you. I think they’re cool to have,” said resident Cyle Gaffney.
Councilman Dan Langshaw is behind the ordinance discussed at a Tuesday safety committee meeting. The legislation would ban flying drones above or adjacent to public parks, schools, property owned by the city, school district, public utilities or other public entities.
Langshaw says he is pushing for the new rules because of surveillance concerns voiced by residents about drones getting too close for comfort.
“They thought somebody was flying a drone and they’re like ‘is there anything the city can do about it?’ I looked into it and we have nothing on the books to regulate this,” said Langshaw.
Some residents argue the Federal Aviation Administration already regulates drone use. Adding local rules only complicates an already confusing set of guidelines.
“I could see it flying over crowds and football stadiums but if you have a big open space like this [referencing a nearby park] and there’s really nobody around I don’t see the harm in that,” said resident Gregory Loder who is considering buying a drone.
Langshaw says he wouldn’t describe drone usage as problematic in the city. However he cautions additional rules only help police who are often caught in the middle of arguments about drone surveillance.
“To anyone that’s a critic [arguing] ‘oh the FAA can just handle it’. Well that’s fine and dandy but when there are issues again people are not going to be calling the FAA. They’re going to call local law enforcement then they’re going to be wondering what are they going to do because we really don’t have any guidance,” said Langshaw.
Violators of the drone ban could be charged with a misdemeanor. Ordinance details are still being finalized.