UPDATE: Manchester is moving full steam ahead with the drone ban. Please consider attending the Manchester Township Council meeting on Monday April 11th, 2016. The meeting will take place at Manchester Town Hall, 1 Colonial Drive at 6:00 PM
MANCHESTER – Despite his town facing problems including the 4th highest property tax rate in Ocean County, much of which was incurred under the watch of the so-called “Continued Good Government” crew, of which he aided and abetted, Manchester Councilman Craig Wallis believes the most imminent danger facing his community is none other than the scourge of drones operated by private citizens.
The councilman wants to take away Manchester’s drones – for their own safety – of course. Wallis claims that during the Seaside Heights Polar Bear Plunge, one of those blasted drones somehow “fell out of the sky” and injured two people. The councilman’s allegation was reported by The Manchester Times, however no other media outlets reported on any incidents involving the drone, leaving us only able to take Mr. Wallis at his word.
The paper quoted him as saying “If we’re having the Manchester Day out there, that we don’t have drones flying overhead and that we have a way to stop them,” Councilman Wallis pontificated.
“They’re flying these things over a lot of people. They’re going to fall out of the sky, and somebody is going to get hurt. I just want to make sure that we can control them.”
Still, the councilman wants to ban drones from flying over public events – despite any ban being on very shaky legal ground.
Wallis asked Township Attorney Angela Koutsouris to research the law surrounding the issue and possibly draft an ordinance, however no specifics were set in stone. Koutsouris said she is unaware of any other municipality attempting to regulate the use of drones.
The FAA has already ruled on the issue of use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by private citizens, and citizens have the right to fly their drones up to 400 feet provided they register it with the FAA. And despite the councilman’s eagerness to turn regular citizens into criminals by outlawing drones, we’d remind him that current law already provides a mechanism for law enforcement to deal with reckless operators that cause damage.
The next Manchester Township Council meeting will be on March 14th at 6:00 PM at the township’s Municpal Building, 1 Colonial Drive. We’ll be there to see what, if anything comes of this half-baked idea.