Proposal Would Ban Drone Takeoffs, Landings On Township Property

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker talked about a proposed drone ordinance to the open Space Advisory Committee at its April 17 meeting.

An ordinance that would prohibit the takeoff and landing of drones on township-owned property is being readied for the Township Council.

The ordinance is being written by township attorney Louis Rainone at the behest of the council’s land use subcommittee, acting on a suggestion by the Open Space Advisory Committee.

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker told the Open Space Advisory Committee at its April 17 meeting about work on the proposal.

He said the township can only regulate what happens on municipally owned land, such as parks.

“We can’t regulate the flight aspect of the drones because that’s a Federal Aviation Administration issue, not ours,” he said.

The ordinance would not affect land owned by the township Board of Education, Somerset County or New Jersey, he said.

Somerset County already bans the use of drones on county owned park property, he said.

The ordinance would also exempt actions taken by or on behalf of governmental entities, Vornlocker said.

There has also been talk of the township creating a “drone park,” and Vornlocker said that if one were ever created, that property would be exempted from the prohibition.

Committee member Bob Puskas, the liaison from the Agricultural Advisory Committee, asked if there could be an exemption for farmers who lease township land.

“The land use committee did not have brought up to it the question of agricultural use by an agricultural lessee,” said Councilman Ted Chase, the council’s liaison to the committee. “It’s a reasonable request.”

Chase mentioned the proposed ordinance during his comments at the April 10 Council meeting.

Vornlocker said that might fall into the commercial category, which would require the drone user to have a special commercial license.

“There’s a lot of legitimate reasons to use them, that’s what the ordinance will have to take into account,” Vornlocker said. “If this is a legitimate use, the council will have to take that up with the township attorney.”


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