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Wed, Jan 25, 2017

Orlando City Commission Gives Unanimous Approval To Drone Ordinance

Final Passage Means Law Goes Into Effect Immediately

The city council in Orlando Florida on Monday gave final approval to the city's new drone ordinance, which goes in effect immediately.

The ordinance prohibits the use of drones on nearly all public property in the city, established a local permitting process, and sets fines for violations.

Permits to operate a drone can be obtained from the city for an annual fee of $150, or operators can get a per-event permit for $20. The use of drones is now prohibited in most public parks, around major venues, near schools, or at events where there are a large number of people without the city's permission.

Mayor Buddy Dyer (pictured above) said the city is not anti-drone. "My understanding of what has been drafted will not affect the ability of anybody to use their drone in the fashion that they have been using it if they have been complying with  FAA regulations. What we are doing is giving our police officers the ability, if somebody is buzzing a crowd, or taking photographs of (a person) laying out at (their) swimming pool, to understand simply that they have the ability stop that conduct," Dyer said.

"If you are a responsible drone user, this ordinance is not going to affect you," said Orlando Police legal advisor Austin Moore.

The city says the ordinance does not regulate the use of drones on private property, but said the ordinance is needed for public safety, or to prevent invasion of privacy around people's homes.

Six drone and model aircraft operators spoke at the meeting. One, Sean Morrison (pictured), president of the Orlando Roto Racers and a member of the AMA, said the ordinance will severely restrict his ability not only to operate a drone, but to fly model aircraft in the city. "I fly model airplanes, not just these little drones. And model airplanes require a large field to take off and land from. The only place we can really fly are soccer fields, football fields, and places like that. I do this during hours when kids are in school, and the fields are empty and unoccupied. Sometimes this is on school property on the weekends where it's not prohibited.

"Whether or not it's your intention to eliminate our hobby, the law is the law," Morrison said. "And if passed, this ordinance will prohibit flying in the only areas we have left. It's very difficult to find suitable areas to safely fly model aircraft in Orlando."

Moore said that the city would be designating one public park for flying drones and model airplanes.

The Council passed the ordinance on a voice vote without dissent among the members.

(Images from Council video posted to YouTube)

FMI: Meeting Video Drone discussion begins at 1:22:09

 


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