Sag Harbor Village Board Tables Decision On Regulating Drones

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The Sag Harbor Village Board tabled a vote to regulate the use of drones on Tuesday.

During the public hearing, Kurt Leggard, a Sag Harbor resident who said he often flies drones for fun and for business, told the board he hopes it will take people like him into consideration.

Mr. Leggard said he abides by all of the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules and regulations, and he understands that village officials are concerned about privacy in the village. “You still have to have the opportunity to fly,” he said, however. “You can’t fly in a box.”

The law would prohibit flying unmanned aircraft for recreational use without first obtaining permission from the subject, property owner or the Village Board if flown over village property. Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. noted that the FAA regulates the use of unmanned aircraft systems used for commercial or business purposes.

“If I’m up 300 feet somebody could misconstrue that I am impacting their privacy,” Mr. Leggard said. “I want to make sure the board takes these into consideration. The ability of someone to fly a drone is a right.”

The unmanned aircraft would also be banned from flying over “sensitive infrastructure or property,” including power stations and sewage facilities. Drones would have to be flown at a minimum of 25 feet high if they were close to people and cars, and they could not be flown higher than 400 feet from the ground.

Mr. Leggard noted that after the holidays, “everybody’s kids and their mother” are going to be flying drones—and that the Village Board should really think carefully about regulating them.

Mr. Thiele explained that the FAA could preempt a village law at any moment. “They have made recommendations, they have created a task force, but they haven’t implemented any rules yet, and in the absence of those you are seeing laws like these in local governments in different parts of the country,” he said.

Board members said they would will look into Mr. Leggard’s concerns and tabled a decision until their next meeting in January.

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