BY FREDA MIKLIN
After receiving a number of calls from residents about actual and perceived potential ways in which drones have been or might be used intrusively, GV city attorney Tonya Haas-Davidson attempted to craft language to amend the municipal code to address citizens’ concerns. It was tricky because the Federal Aviation Administration has sole jurisdiction over aircraft and all U.S. airspace. That includes aircraft, like drones that fly at very low altitudes. After several stops and starts over the past year, Haas-Davidson got help from newly elected city councilman Tom Dougherty, an attorney with knowledge in the area.
They drafted amendments to the city’s municipal code that make it a violation of law to commit invasion of privacy, trespassing, harassment, or interfere with a police officer.
Colorado district wildlife manager Justin Olson talked to GV city council about living with geese in the city.
The city received at least 18 letters from drone operators, all objecting to the proposed amendments to the city code. No letters of support were introduced at the hearing. Most writers said these rules were unnecessary due to federal guidelines and would interfere with their legitimate businesses that use drone technology. Four citizens came to the meeting to address the city council. All were concerned about the vagueness of the language. One of those testifying was a trained attorney who pointed to the terms, “expectation of privacy,” and “in a manner likely to…annoy,” as examples of ambiguous speech. He also said that defining trespassing as failing to get advance consent from a property owner to fly one’s drone turns the concept of trespassing “on its head.”
Dale Honning, longtime west side GV resident and drone enthusiast, told The Villager that the city attorney had been very diligent and put a lot of thought into writing the rules. He realized that the amendments to city code were directed at irresponsible drone users. Still, he felt strongly, in agreement with the other speakers that the vague language of the ordinance could lead to unintended consequences where legitimate drone users could be cited for violating the law, causing them to incur the expense and inconvenience that accompanies being charged with an offense, even if it is eventually dismissed.
After hearing citizens’ objections, several on the council expressed doubts about the ordinance. Dougherty reminded his fellow council members that this effort stemmed from requests by city residents to address the subject and that it was directed only at irresponsible drone users. Councilman Dave Kerber, also a lawyer, noted that every new law creates criminals and that he found the assertion that this ordinance contained a number of vague terms convincing.
The new additions to GV law limiting the use of drones passed on a vote of seven to one, with Kerber casting the only dissenting vote.
In other news…
The council heard from Justin Olson, state district wildlife manager, on the subject of a large number of geese in and around the city. Olson talked about their habitat (water at night, grassy area during the day) and the difficulty of doing much about them, now that they’ve become a resident bird, as well as a migratory one. Council asked over a dozen questions, including one from Dougherty, who wondered whether anyone had considered introducing additional predators to reduce the population? Olson noted that the state would not do that just to reduce the size of the population. When it was all said and done, the primary complaint was that there were a lot of geese droppings, especially at the city’s parks. It soon became clear that the simple solution was to add more resources to the cleanup effort.
The city honored four of its residents, Cherry Creek High School seniors who received perfect scores on their college boards.
Awarded new liquor licenses were Pollo Lima at 9614 E. Arapahoe Road and ASA Sushi at 5302 DTC Boulevard.
GV council and mayor honor resident Cherry Creek High School students who achieved perfect scores on their college boards. On Mayor Ron Rakowsky’s left, Columbia-bound Siddharth Mane and future Georgia Tech freshman Tagleet Geltser. On his right, Carnegie-Melon admit Grace Lao and soon-to-be BYU freshman Jared Scott.
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