Bethany Beach Passes New Drone Regulations - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Bethany Beach Passes New Drone Regulations

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Drone flies over the beach (Photo: WBOC) Drone flies over the beach (Photo: WBOC)

BETHANY BEACH, Del. - The Bethany Beach Town Council unanimously passed a new ordinance limiting the use of drones, or unmanned aircraft, within town limits.

According to Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman, it all started after a drone was flown over a crowded boardwalk on New Year's Eve.

"That is our way of getting ahead of the game, because we felt that the town has an obligation to ensure the safety of the people who live here and also come to visit and we have thousands of visitors who come in the summer," she said. "So you could imagine if you have a drone hovering above, and these things can weigh up to 55 pounds, and one of them because of mechanical failure or human error suddenly comes to the ground you can have someone seriously injured, if not killed, or you can have serious property damage."

More specifically, the new law would only allow pilots to fly their drones over their own property, or a neighbors with permission.

That means no beaches, no boardwalk, no public space.

Commercial use will be allowed as long as they receive a permit from the town.

TJ Redefer is an avid drone user in Dewey Beach and said he is disappointed.

"The biggest concern is that other towns will look at this law and try to mimic it or copy it in some way," he said.

Redefer takes photos with his drone and said he strictly follows safety guidelines. He said it makes more sense to leave the laws up to the FAA to avoid confusion. 

"The person in Pittsburgh that's coming on vacation that packs all his things, or her things, to come to the beach won't know this law till they get here," he said.

Enforcement-wise, Bethany Beach officials said police will try to identify the pilot and then issue a citation. Fees for first offenders would range from $50 to $100 then go up to even $1,000 after that.

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