WILDWOOD – The Wildwood Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance that would regulate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, when operated within city limits.
Ordinance 1252-23, titled “Drones and Unmanned Aircraft Regulations,” was introduced on first reading, Feb. 8, to regulate the use of privately owned drones in the city.
“With the increased popularity of drones and the continual requests by private individuals to fly over Wildwood skies during events, the city is just taking a proactive approach in formalizing standard rules and guidelines for their usage,” City Administrator Steve O’Connor said.
The ordinance makes a distinction between drones and unmanned aircraft.
A drone is an aircraft that flies under the control of a remote pilot or a global positioning system (GPS) and is equipped with any sensing device capable of collecting any data. That would include recording sound, visual images, or thermal images.
An unmanned aircraft is an unmanned flying vehicle of any size that is capable of remote flight but does not have the ability to collect data. An example would be remote-controlled airplanes used for recreational purposes.
The ordinance outlines three basic regulations.
The first is that anyone intending to fly or land on any government or public buildings, property or parks within the city must first get written permission from the chief of police.
Second, the operator must not fly the drone under 400 feet above any government or public buildings, property or parks, without written permission from the chief of police; and finally, the operator may not fly below 400 feet over a beach between the Friday immediately before May 1 through Oct. 31, unless the chief of police gives written permission for a special event or city-sponsored event.
The exceptions to the above regulations are when a drone is being used by a law enforcement agency or other emergency services, or an authorized use by a municipal, county, state or federal agency. In any event, drones or unmanned aircraft must be used in a lawful manner and for lawful purposes.
Anyone found guilty of violating the ordinance is subject to a fine of up to $2,000 or up to 90 hours of community service, in addition to the fine or as a substitute, at the discretion of the judge.
The ordinance will be scheduled for a second reading and public hearing on Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. Once the ordinance becomes effective an application form will be made available.
Thoughts? Questions? Contact the author, Christopher South, at email@example.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.