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Seaside Heights May Consider Drone Regulations After Beach Incident

A drone being used on a beach. (Credit: Bay Post/Australia)

A drone being used on a beach. (Credit: Bay Post/Australia)

Seaside Heights officials are looking into the possibility of setting up a permitting system for people who want to use drones within the town’s borders.

“Some municipalities have thrown them out completely, but that’s not what we’re trying to do,” Mayor Anthony Vaz said Wednesday following a meeting of the borough council.

Instead, Seaside Heights is investigating the legality of setting up a system whereby drone operators would have to register with the borough, choose a date to use their drone, pay a small permit fee (prices between $10 and $25 are under consideration) and provide proof of insurance. The regulations are being considered following an incident at the annual Polar Plunge event that took place in February.

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“One of the officials was doing what he always did with the drone – a nice thing – but he lost control and it hit a lady,” Vaz said. “It didn’t hurt her badly, but she did have to go to the hospital. He had insurance they took care of it, and it wasn’t serious, but it made us think that we might want to do something.”

Last year, Long Beach Township became the first municipality in New Jersey to ban drones within its borders, citing safety issues that could arise if drones were used during the summer season in the crowded Long Beach Island community. Lavallette also has a drone ban under consideration, which will likely be discussed at the next borough council meeting there.

In Seaside Heights, a ban isn’t being considered, but the borough will likely allow only a certain number of drones to be used per day, especially during the summer.

“We can either say, ‘yes, it good for July 4,’ or, ‘sorry, there are too many drones that day,'” said Vaz. “We want to have some control.”

Borough Attorney Jean Cipriani is researching the issue and is expected to draw up an ordinance by the next borough council meeting, set for May 18.