Orchard Park Town Council votes to rescind drone law

O.P. town council votes to rescind drone law

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The Orchard Park Town Council unanimously approved a motion Wednesday night to begin the process of rescinding the town’s municipal drone ordinances.

That proposal came after a 2 On Your Side Original Investigation by reporter Michael Wooten found only the FAA has jurisdiction over navigable airspace.

Councilman Michael Sherry says the timeline goes like this: When there were no federal drone laws back in 2015, Orchard Park created its own due to concerns about the thousands of people that gather at New Era Field.

"With a view to safety of citizens. We have the largest venue In NYS in the stadium here, plus we have all kinds of outdoor events that occur here,” Sherry said.

Then in 2016, the FAA released drone rules including TFRs, or temporary flight restrictions, for NFL games, meaning nobody can fly a drone within three miles of a stadium one hour before through one hour after the game.

Orchard Park's law went further, restricting drones six hours before through six hours after not only games, but any event at the stadium.

Adding to the confusion, Joe Danno — who flew his drone near New Era Field during the U2 concert — was fined by the town even though there was no federal TFR for the show.

Sherry said the council has since looked at case law and determined that, for now, their local law is redundant.

"We're not re-writing anything to comply with FAA regulations, we're just rescinding an ordinance that appears to be at odds with their regulations,” said town attorney John Bailey.

A public hearing will take place in the near future before the rescinding of the law can take effect.

As for the charges Danno still faces, the council and Orchard Park police say it'll be up to the town prosecutor whether or not to drop his case altogether.

Despite Wednesday’s vote, Sherry made clear he doesn't think the FAA regulations go far enough.

"There are other issues that still need to be addressed with this growing technology and access that everyone has to drones,” he said.

Town of Orchard Park Police Chief Mark Pacholec declined an on-camera interview with Channel 2, saying he felt it was too premature to comment.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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