Fueled by worry over the proliferation of consumer drones could pose a safety threat on packed beaches this summer, Lavallette officials have floated the idea of either a ban or regulatory policy on the airborne devices.
“Some people may have a lot of skill with these drones and others may not,” Councilman Robert Lamb, who was first to suggest the borough research ordinances to see if local regulations on drones are feasible.
“I think we’re going to have an issue as they get more and more inexpensive,” Lamb said, referencing “dueling” drones last weekend being flown near the bayfront gazebo. “We may need to consider having an ordinance restricting them, especially in the recreational areas.”
“A lot of towns are talking about it,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero, who stopped short of endorsing an all-out ban, but was open to regulating their use in either public areas or recreational areas.
Lavallette would not be the first town in Ocean County to put drone regulations into place. Last year, Long Beach Township enacted a ban on recreational drones at an altitude below 400 feet in public areas. Drones used on private property were still allowed, as well as drones used for research or governmental purposes. The barrier island township subjects violators to a $2,000 fine or 90 days in jail, the Asbury Park Press reported at the time of the ordinance’s passage, though first-time violators would likely receive a warning.
The Long Beach Township law was enacted after concerns were raised about the safety of drones operating on the beachfront, where a gust of wind could knock the craft off course, posing a safety hazard, Mayor James Mancini said at the time.
Eric Bernstein, Lavallette’s borough attorney, said he would begin researching the extent to which a local government could restrict drone use and make a recommendation to the governing body at a future meeting.
LaCicero, for his part, floated the idea of banning drones only at certain times or dates.
“We have various options,” he said.