The Board of Commissioners of Long Beach Island have prohibited the use of drones below 400 feet. According to the FAA, drone pilots must:
- Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
- Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
- Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
- Don’t fly near people or stadiums
- Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
- Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft
So if the commissioners say no drones below 400, and the FAA said you must fly below 400 feet, where can a law-abiding drone pilot fly? Private property which has exemptions in the new law is the answer. Consenting property owners may allow drone operations over their land, residential or commercial, as long as there is “no data collection — the acquisition of information by use of one or more sensing devices” — of any other nearby property or its occupants where that owner has not given his/her consent, according to the ordinance. What’s a sensing device? In this contact, sensing devices are “defined in the ordinance as electronics that includes cameras, microphones, thermal detectors, chemical detectors, radiation gauges and any sensor that can eavesdrop on wireless communications or monitor Wi-Fi signals.” The government itself is, of course, exempt from the ordinance. This means colleges and universities, and research institutions are good to go.
Operating a recreational drone in this Long Beach Island resort town could get you a $2,000 fine or as much as 90 days in the Ocean County Jail.
Earlier this week, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance prohibiting the use of drones below an altitude of 400 feet. That includes the airspace above the township’s 12 miles of non-contiguous beachfront. The municipal law went into effect on Thursday. Township police officers and lifeguards will be on the lookout for offenders this weekend, according to local officials.