Orchard Park withdraws drone ordinance, proposes new regulations

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — A new drone ordinance will go into effect soon which will allow the town of Orchard Park to enforce drone guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration. Town officials unanimously voted to rescind the current code Wednesday.

Council member Michael Sherry had been asking for the current code to be withdrawn after since he realized the current code that was put in place in 2015 wasn’t really effective.

Sherry says that’s because a year later the FAA put its own regulations in place which overruled Orchard Park’s rules. The FAA is the only one with the authority over airspace.

“But one of the problems is they are a regulatory agency, they’re not an enforcement agency. So if there are drones flying over these large events, there’s no ability if those are occurring in real time to stop them,” said Michael Sherry, council member of the Town of Orchard Park.

A new drone code would give the town power to enforce the rules. The new code restricts drones from taking off or landing within 2 miles of New Era Field, 4 hours before or after an event and within one mile of an outdoor event, like parades, festivals and concerts, sponsored by the town two hours before or after the event.

“The motivation and intent is to secure the safety of individuals who are gathered in large assemblies. That was what the original intention was,” said Sherry.

Council member Sherry has been working closely with the FAA in figuring out how to enforce any local drone regulations. If someone violates the new ordinance, they could face a citation and have to appear in court.

Sherry says he’s confident the new code will be voted through after a public hearing November 15th. Once voted, the code would go into effect by the end of the month.

A 39-year-old man was arrested for flying his drone during the U2 concert in September. He is scheduled to be in court in December, but Sherry says his charges will likely be dropped soon since the council has withdrawn its current ordinance.

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