Additional restrictions proposed for drones in Ashwaubenon
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as drones, would face additional restrictions in the village under a proposed ordinance backed March 2 by Ashwaunbenon’s Public Works and Protection Committee.
Village Attorney Tony Wachewicz said the drafted ordinance is comprehensive in nature related to the operation of drones.
“Currently in our code we have a provision that relates to operation of drones during lake operational hours at Ashwaubomay (Park), and that does allow our director of parks, recreation and forestry to provide permission during those time periods,” he said.
Wachewicz said the proposed ordinance was put together in response to a request from the public safety department, and is geared toward the operation of drones “during special events and other scenarios.”
“They’ve had apparently a few instances in which they’ve had some concerns about drone operation during special events, including Packer games as well last year,” he said. “So as a result of that, public safety brought forward this proposed ordinance.”
The proposed ordinance defines a special event as “any athletic event, demonstration, parade, run/walk event, exhibition, march/ceremony, or any similar display in or upon any street, park, or other public place in the village.”
Within the designated boundaries of a special event, it would be illegal for someone to operate a drone one hour prior to, during and one hour after the scheduled time of the event, unless the operator received written approval.
In addition, drones could not be operated within the designated boundaries of Ashwaubomay Park during lake operational hours without written approval.
The proposed ordinance also includes restricting drone operation within 100 feet of a school facility, unless the operator receives “written or electronic authorization of school officials.”
Wachewicz said he and public safety Chief Brian Uhl had a conference call with representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration, and provisions were built into the proposed ordinance to preempt the village’s ordinance from being enforced when drone operators receive a waiver from the FAA.
“What this ordinance requires is people to basically indicate or have possession of those permissions and waivers and things of that nature as well,” he said. “It also incorporates regulations on operations of drones during special events, as well as taking that provision that was in our park and (recreation) chapter and then moving into this ordinance as well, so that it also continues the same previous ordinance that we had on operating drones at Ashwaubomay during lake operational hours.”
Wachewicz said the proposed ordinance would also authorize the park and recreation director and the public safety chief to provide permission to operate drones, depending upon the circumstances.
“Primarily public safety will be the enforcement agency concerning it,” he said.
In addition to any other penalty or remedy in the village code or state or federal law, the proposed ordinance calls for anyone found guilty of violating it to pay a fine of $500 per violation.
Wachewicz said the ordinance would apply to the entire village.
It will be considered by the village board for final approval at its March 23 meeting.