Township eyes drone ordinance

By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.-The township board of trustees meeting is expected to discuss the first draft of an ordinance to regulate drones and unmanned aircraft in the township. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 16
According to the proposed ordinance, drones will be prohibited from flying under 250 feet, over schools, cell tower property, government or public property. Drones and unamanned aircraft however, may be used by any law enforcement agency or emergency service organization or on private property in daylight hours. Drones will be prohibited from containing a weapon of any kind or operated by anyone under the influence of alcohol or illegal substance. Individuals shall not be prohibited from using drones in daylight hours in the airspace over private property with the owners consent.
“The key to the ordinance is that you should not be under the influence and not have a weapon on it,” said township attorney David Lattie. “Operating it more than 250 feet above the ground. You can’t just operate over people’s air space without their permission.”
“It’s a civil infraction of you are in violation of the ordinance. What we want to do is protect people’s privacy,” he said.
Township trustee Patrick Major questioned the scope of the proposed ordinance with regard to data collection.
“Will the ordinance say you cannot collect data from any place other than over your own property?” he said.
Lattie responded to the question with an example of using a drone to take pictures or video for real estate marketing when selling homes.
The issue of privacy and drone use was addressed by Sergeant George Lieber, Genesee County Sheriff Department Atlas Township who atteneded the meeting.
“We have received calls regarding drones flying over private property,” he said. “If you flew it over your property and looking in someone’s window it would be covered under (law) 328 window peeper.”

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