Town Passes Legislation Making Town Parks, Beaches “No Drone Zones”

Supervisor Anthony J. Santino and the Hempstead Town Board passed legislation today to make the township’s beaches, parks, pools, golf courses, preserves and other facilities “NO DRONE ZONES.”  The Supervisor noted that this new law will protect the privacy of residents, ensure the safety of park goers and protect wildlife by putting a stop to the noise and nuisance associated with the remote-controlled aircraft.

“Neighbors come to town beaches, pools, parks and preserves to enjoy peace, tranquility and privacy,” said Santino. “Our residents deserve to enjoy a safe setting at town facilities that is free of the noise and nuisance associated with drones.”

Citing a proliferation of the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, at town facilities, Santino and other officials have studied the impact, consequences and dangers of unrestricted drone usage. One of the key concerns that has surfaced is the danger presented by drones inadvertently hitting people, cars and wildlife.  Injuries and property damage reports have appeared in news articles. The town’s responsibility to safeguard the protected piping plover at area beaches was cited by the Supervisor as a striking example of the high stakes associated with unrestricted drone usage at town beaches and preserves.

Just this past October, a drone being used for photography crashed into a business on Main Street in Sag Harbor and burst into flames. Santino cited the incident as one recent example of drones endangering safety of the public in local neighborhoods.

Additionally, the privacy of town patrons in roofless dressing areas at municipal pools is an area of profound concern. Further, the township’s beach cabanas and individual boats at town marinas present serious privacy issues.

At the same time, Santino observed that town residents who visit nature preserves, beaches and golf courses have a reasonable expectation to enjoy town facilities without the noise and nuisance presented by drones flying in an unrestricted manner at these locations. 

“The privacy of park patrons and protection of wildlife are important priorities to which I am committed,” noted Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby. “This legislation will help achieve that goal.”   

“I was proud to vote in favor of this legislation which will ensure the safety and peacefulness of town parks and beaches,” stated Councilman Anthony D’Esposito. “As a drone user myself, I know that this legislation carefully balances the rights of those who enjoy using drones and the rights of those who want privacy and to enjoy the peacefulness of town facilities.”

The use of drones at town facilities is regulated, and restricted use of drones is accommodated through a permitting process to be overseen by the Hempstead Town Clerk. Coordination with administrators at parks, beaches, pools and preserves will provide for use of drones in a manner that does not endanger the public and wildlife, while also safeguarding privacy and minimizing public disturbances.

Penalties for violating the proposed ordinance range from $500 for a first offense to $1,500 for a third violation. Enforcement officers in the town’s building department, public safety division, highway department and sanitation workforce will uphold the town code and be empowered to issue summonses. 

“Hempstead Town has the best beaches, pools, parks and nature preserves anywhere,” concluded Santino. “This law, restricting the use of drones at these and other town locations, will keep neighbors safer and ensure their enjoyment of everything the town has to offer without the noise and nuisance of drones.”