Additional restrictions approved for drones in Ashwaubenon
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as drones, will face additional restrictions in the village under an ordinance approved, Tuesday, March 23, by the village board.
Village Attorney Tony Wachewicz said the village previously adopted an ordinance which applied to drone operation at Ashwaubomay Park.
“Since that time when we passed that ordinance, public safety has had a variety of circumstances, mainly with Packer games and the operation of drones,” he said.
Public Safety Chief Brian Uhl said the NFL had some drone-related issues occurring at a Packers game and wanted to work with village.
“They talked about this in the past and how we can work with them to help enforce some of these issues that they’re having with these drones flying over the games,” he said. “They had one – I think at a Bears game – where a drone actually came into the bowl of the stadium down around the 50-yard line, and it turned out it was someone close to one of the bars downtown.”
Wachewicz the new ordinance and restrictions will allow the village to regulate the operation of drones throughout Ashwaubenon, and incorporates waivers for drone operation as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“(Because drone operation) is heavily regulated by the FAA, we have to be cognizant of that, and we are preempted (from restricting drones when a waiver is granted by the FAA), so we have to incorporate the waiver requirements as well,” he said.
Wachewicz said the ordinance and restrictions are geared toward regulating drones during special events and at Ashwaubomay Park.
He said the ordinance exempts public uses of drones on behalf of a government agency, such as for law enforcement purposes.
The 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 will be illegal for someone to operate a drone one hour prior to, during and one hour after the scheduled time on the event, unless the operator receives written approval.
In addition, drones may not be operated within the boundaries of Ashwaubomay Park during lake operational hours without written approval.
The ordinance also includes restricting drone operation within 100 feet of a school, unless the operator receives “written or electronic authorization of school officials.”
In addition to any other penalty or remedy in the village code or state or federal law, the ordinance calls for anyone found guilty to pay a fine of $500 per violation.