Falls to set drone limits

NEWTON FALLS — Concerned with an uptick in complaints about small remote-controlled aircaft trolling through the skies above Newton Falls neighborhoods, council this week took the first step to rein in drone use.

Council gave first reading Monday to an ordinance that will address concerns, including invasion of privacy and property damage.

If the ordinance passes, operation of unmanned aircraft will be banned above or adjacent to Newton Falls public parks, schools the municipal building or any city-owned property, unless specifically authorized by the city manager. Violators would face a fourth degree misdemeanor.

The exception includes law enforcement executing a search warrant

Councilman-at-Large Tarry Alberini said he received three complaints of drones being flown in the West Broad Street area.

“People are concerned with drones flying over their homes and their backyards,” he said.

Fourth Ward Councilman Phillip Beer said while people may be flying drones at their homes or at a private property location, there are residential homes nearby. He said he was concerned if the drones are taking photographs of people at their homes.

“There are some people who do not like drones around their homes,” he said.

The move by Newton Falls council is not unique.

Several school districts, including Hubbard and Liberty schools, have prohibited drones on school property and the football stadium for various sporting events, scrimmages and games. The Canfield Fair Board also has banned drones at the fairgrounds.

In 2015, McDonald village passed legislation to monitor drones. The legislation.did not prohibit, but rather restricted them when flying above large crowds or above homes and windows. Individuals need to obtain written permission to operate a drone in the village.

Newton Falls Council is scheduled to act on second reading of drones August 20.