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Huntington Town officials look to regulate drone use

Huntington officials are considering regulating drones, like the

Huntington officials are considering regulating drones, like the Parrot SA Bebop Drone quadcopter seen in this photo, saying the increasingly radio-controlled airborne devices could become a potential threat to public safety. Credit: Bloomberg / Kiyoshi Ota

Town of Huntington officials are looking at regulating drones, saying the increasingly popular radio-controlled airborne devices could become a potential threat to public safety.

"There are privacy and quality-of-life issues that the operation of drones present and my gut [feeling] is that they are going to be a lot more prevalent as the price goes down and novelty goes away," town board member Mark Cuthbertson said Monday. "This is the start of the discussion of where they can go, where is it airspace and where is it someone's backyard, and what are the issues that it raises."

At Tuesday's regular town board meeting, Cuthbertson is to sponsor a resolution to schedule a public hearing for July 14 to consider adding a chapter to the town code to regulate the devices.

Cuthbertson said the legislation would include language stating that the devices can't interfere with other aircraft, can't be on someone's property without the consent of the property owner and can't monitor people without their permission.

"I haven't seen the legislation yet, but it is a topic that needs to be discussed," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said.

Cuthbertson said drones have been in use at the town's St. Patrick's Day parade and have been seen at local beaches.

Flying a drone in an open field wouldn't necessarily pose a problem, Cuthbertson said, but if it crashed through a window, interfered with a power transmission line or impacted a busy highway, there would be potential for significant damage or personal injury.

A bill to ban camera-carrying drones from flying over county-owned buildings and land stalled in the Suffolk County Legislature in April and was returned to committee for revisions. Sponsor Legis. Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) said at the time that he introduced the legislation because of concerns about the use of drones in a terrorist attack, as well as privacy issues.

The Federal Aviation Administration is studying options for regulating drones nationwide.

Last month, a passenger jet bound for LaGuardia Airport narrowly missed hitting a drone in the air near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Last week, Grammy Award-winning singer Enrique Iglesias severely cut his fingers attempting to grab a camera drone, a routine he had performed successfully during past concerts.

Tuesday's Huntington Town Board meeting is at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the meeting time.

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