Anderson County drone ordinance fails to pass, referred for more study

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By Stan Welch
An ordinance designed to give the county the authority to become more involved in what the ordinance’s sponsor, Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, calls the illegal operation of drones failed to pass first reading Tuesday night. It was referred to the public safety committee for study without approval.
Wilson, who says she has observed numerous drones both at her home and her mother’s property, claims she has no interest in the legitimate daytime operation of such drones, which have exploded in usage and popularity in recent years. But she is concerned with illegal night operations for a variety of reasons.
First of all, she cites public safety. “These drones are often at altitudes that can pose a threat to other aviation, such as medical flights of helicopters and small planes. These drones, which can be very sophisticated, have their aviation lights on the bottom, making them difficult to see from above. The FAA prohibits night time operations but they aren’t enforcing their own rules.”
Wilson says the drones can also fly very low, leading to concerns about criminal use, such as dropping drugs at pickup locations, as well as allowing for invasions of privacy and voyeurism. She cited one neighbor she spoke to who reacted by blurting out that she and her husband often used their hot tub while nude. Wilson says she and her mother have been awakened in the wee hours of the morning by drones hovering near their windows.
Her intentions in seeking the ordinance are to allow the county, and especially the ACSO, to focus more attention on violations and failures of the FAA to enforce its regulations. She would seek local registration of the drones with law enforcement, and to implement restrictions on night operations.
“There have been serious problems with drones all over the world in recent months. A Mexican airliner was hit by one. These devices can stream a live feed to other outlets. Do you really want one hovering over your house doing that?”
Wilson also reports that the SCDOT is beginning acquisition of rights of way (ROW) for the Cherokee Road Bridge/Hwy. 29 North project this spring.