ROSWELL, Ga. — A new ordinance passed unanimously by the Roswell City Council Dec. 9 bans operators from launching or landing unauthorized drones may no longer be launched or land on city property.

The new amendment mirrors laws created by the Federal Aviation Administration prohibiting drone operation within the city and launching or landing drones on city property without proper authorization. 

“The purpose of this ordinance is to ensure compliance with the FAA,” Councilwoman Marie Willsey said. 

Some of the current FAA regulations for recreational fliers include mandatory registration of drones, that the drone stay within the operator’s line of sight and that the drone not be flown while the operator is under the influence. The drone may also not be flown over people during public events or near emergencies, two scenarios that prompted Roswell Police Capt. Kyle Ratliff to introduce the ordinance.

“What really got to me was the 4th of July fireworks with the drones flying directly over the kids,” he said at an earlier Public Safety and Public Works Committee meeting. “Internationally, there have been incidents where drones have been used to intentionally cause damage to people and property.”

Public safety, according to Councilman Matt Judy, is the driving force behind passing the ordinance.

“We can make sure, be it Alive in Roswell or any event in Roswell, that if there is a drone overhead, we don’t have to call the FAA and wait for somebody to get down here,” he said. “We can take care of it ourselves.”

He added that he had received some letter from residents worried about their rights. 

Police Chief James Conroy said the ordinance will not add any restrictions outside of the FAA’s regulations, which prohibit cities like Roswell from taking such actions.

Mayor Lori Henry said that since the amendment was first introduced, the city has received some letters of concern regarding recreational drone use, especially in the Gerrard Landing Park area. 

Conroy said people would be able to use drones in that park if the city designates it as a launching and landing facility.

Similar designations and authorizations for drone use could be made in the future through the Recreation Commission, said Director of Recreation and Parks Jeff Leatherman.

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