Drone ordinance fails to fly | December 28, 2017 | grandblancview.mihomepaper.com

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Board has new vacancy

By Paula K. Schmidt

ATLAS TWP. — Consideration of a drone ordinance was originally brought up in a board meeting last year, with township officials citing a call from an unnamed resident who threatened to “shoot it out of the sky” when they saw one over their property.

From a public safety standpoint, officials can’t enforce a law which isn’t on the books so Township Attorney David was tasked with creating a drone ordinance, which he did. It appears to have been destined for a crash landing however, as at the first reading last month, several objections were raised.

Township officials had concerns about the drones being used to invade privacy, but it was noted they already had a ‘peeping tom’ ordinance which covered that. Typical private property claims don’t even seem to apply, as according to federal law, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) owns airspace from the ground up.

That preemptive rule is the major factor in postponing the ordinance for now according to Supervisor Tere Onica, who Skyped (an internet based video chat) with Kyle Lewis, Regional Manager of the Great Lakes chapter of the Association of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Other township officials also attended that video meeting.

“It was a very interesting conversation,” said Onica. They discovered the State of Michigan has also passed a law prohibiting townships from creating ordinances managing drone operations She said Lewis told them they might consider shoring up existing ordinances regarding invasion of privacy but anything more would technically be illegal.

“We can’t interfere with federal law,” Onica explained. Additionally, they discovered there is new technology being prepared to make it easier for the FAA to enforce their rules; namely a registration system which will allow remote identification of drones.

The FAA currently has more than a million registered drones. More information on this is available at https://drone-registration.net/drone-registration-faqs/. In other business the board agreed to allow Onica and Lattie to proceed with amendments on a contractual agreement which would add additional Sheriff’s Deputies to Atlas Township specifically for the use of the River Church during various church services and events.

It is technically a legal requirement Onica said, stating they are allowing the addition, which the church will be paying for. In a change from its initial introduction, she added the Sheriff’s office will oversee the administrative aspects of the agreement, such as billing.

They additionally removed specified times and dates as Onica said they may not want it every single Sunday and may want it at other meetings.

“It is a big concern to all the churches,” Onica said.

The board also gave a big ‘yes’ to the final approval allowing Skyway Towers, LLC to build a wireless communication tower on the property of the Grand Blanc Huntsman’s Club, which is located in a heavily wooded area on the south end of Irish Road off McCandlish in the township.

Other locations and co-locations on other towers were considered and dismissed for various reasons but both the club’s leadership, township officials and skyway are happy with the location and feel the income it will provide to the club will be a great asset in the charity work they do for various organizations across the county.

In addition, it is expected to improve cellular service in the region. Skyway is a Verizon vendor, but other cellular companies will be able to co-locate on the new tower.

The board will also be looking for an alternate member for the board of review following the resignation of Bob Dixon who will be spending time in the southern states. Also approved were the annual board and commission meeting calendars and dates for upcoming budget workshops.

Firefighter Brad Blaker was promoted from lieutenant to Captain following the acceptance of Steve Bullen as Chief at last month’s meeting. Blaker’s position will be filled in the near future as well.


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