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Hempstead eyes banning drones over beaches, golf courses

A drone is pictured in an undated file

A drone is pictured in an undated file photo. Credit: iStock

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said Friday he will propose a ban on drones over town parks, golf courses, pools and beaches.

The new town legislation -- likely to be voted on during the June 21 board meeting -- would ban residents from flying drones over town-owned facilities without a permit. Santino said drones need to be restricted for the privacy of bathers and families, beach goers and golfers.

Hempstead Town owns two drones that are used to monitor dune piping plover habitats and to film town promotions.

“There are residents changing in roofless buildings or sunning on beaches, who don’t need a drone overhead and spying and invading their privacy,” Santino said, accompanied by other town officials at Civic Beach at Point Lookout. “Visitors to local parks beaches and pools deserve to enjoy their peace, tranquillity and privacy. This is the right time to restrict drone use at town facilities.”

Santino said drones pose a safety risk for pedestrians and drivers in highly populated areas. He mentioned a recent example of a drone being used for photography in Sag Harbor that crashed into a Main Street building.

Under the proposal, the town clerk’s office could issue permits for photography projects that would involve drones, including television commercials and weddings.

If passed, drone violations for the first offense would start at $500 and increase to $1,500 for the third offense. The ordinance would be enforced by town public safety officers, building, sanitation and highway workers.

Santino said he expects some resistance from hobbyists, but he expects privacy concerns would be “embraced by a mass majority of residents.”

Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said he owns a drone for recreational use, but supports the new law.

“Our town has miles and miles of beautiful beaches,” D’Esposito said. “This is an opportunity to protect visitors around the town and keep family and loved ones safe.”

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