Albany County Legislature Holds Hearing on Proposed Drone Ban

Several months ago, a Troy man crashed a drone into the state Capitol, and was charged with reckless endangerment.

Because of that incident, the Albany County legislature drafted a law concerning drones that’s causing a lot of controversy. Tuesday was the first public hearing for the local law. As TWC News’ Katie Eastman reports, many of the people who attended are against the idea.

Tuesday was the first public hearing for a local law that would ban drones in Albany County. Of the dozens of people who showed up to speak, not one of them was in favor of it.

At the Science and Hobby Store in Watervliet, meanwhile, drones are flying off the shelves at prices ranging from $25 to $1,000.

“You can take pictures of your house or whatever you want to take pictures of with it,” said store owner George Mann. “Drones are getting bigger, faster, more capable at a fast rate.”

These are also reasons, though, that an Albany County legislator proposed what Mann thinks is a drastic law.

“I kind of thought it sounded premature,” he said.

The law proposed by Albany County legislators would ban all drones, other than the ones used for government purposes. The writer of the local law, Frank Commisso, already seems to disagree with what he wrote after hearing from dozens of people in opposition to it at a public hearing on Tuesday night.

“I have my issues with the way I originally had it drafted,” he said.

Not only would the law written as it is ban these kind of newer drones, but it would also ban the model planes that Allen Latchford has been flying for 40 years. He’s been a member of the Thundervolts RC Club for 12 years.

“It’s not us that are causing the problem,” Latchford said. “It’s these people that get drones and fly them over the capital and where they’re not supposed to.”

Currently, there are no laws that ban recreational drones from flying anywhere; just FAA guidelines and some drones with geo-fencing technology to keep them away from airports.

“It’s a tough challenge to figure that out,” Mann said.

Mann hopes county legislators figure out a way to keep people safe that will also keep the drones on his shelves.