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You may have looked up and seen a drone or two in the sky over Seabrook recently. Both recreational and commercial drones are becoming more prevalent in the U.S. and are expected to continue growing in popularity and usage. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs airspace, and has had regulations pertaining to drones in effect for several years. Some states and municipalities have enacted or are working on their own laws, as well.
Seabrook does not currently have local rules restricting drones within our community. However, with the increasing popularity of recreational drone aircraft, the Safety and Security Committee is reviewing possible guidelines regarding the use of drones on the Seabrook Island Development. These concerns are based on the following considerations:
- Personal privacy: a drone that is equipped with video capture (whether for real time viewing or recording) can easily end up over private property without the consent of the owner or others on the property. Each property owner has the right to enforce the privacy of their property including a column above the ground up to the jurisdiction of the FAA (400 feet)
- Personal injury or property damage: a drone that starts out in a neutral or permitted location may not remain there, and may injure persons or property. Without some means of identifying a particular drone with a particular person, it may be impossible to obtain proper compensation if injury or damage occurs.
- Who is operating the drone? Remote flight is a skill that must be learned. Untrained persons, persons of a very young age not under proper supervision by a trained individual, or persons operating a drone under the influence of alcohol, etc. likely present an increased risk that some sort of harm will occur to others.
- Effects on wildlife, including but not limited to birds, and habitats. While SIPOA does not have jurisdiction over drones operated on the beach below the mean high-water mark, SIPOA does have responsibility for the dunes behind the beach, which are protected areas, and habitats for several species. Birds may perceive a drone as a threat and be harmed or killed if they “attack” the drone. And drones launched on the beach may not remain on the beach, again introducing privacy and property or personal injury damage concerns.
We want to hear from you about how you feel about the use of drones, and the possible regulations of personal, recreational drone aircraft on Seabrook Island. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to give us your views.
In the meantime, the Safety and Security Committee asks that anyone operating a private recreational drone will consider the safety and privacy of our residents and guests, and especially keep in mind the safety considerations in the FAA rules and common sense, including the following:
- Persons who are untrained should not fly drones
- Fly at or below 400 feet
- Always keep your drone within sight
- Never fly near other aircraft
- Never fly over groups of people
- Never fly over sports events
- Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
- Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Ensure that you have property damage and personal injury insurance coverage on your drone
- Do not use video capture (real time or otherwise) software without express permission from everyone who may be captured in your video
- Never fly over private property without permission
- Do not use the drone to harass or interfere with birds or wildlife
- If your drone crashes in a protected area (e.g. the dunes) or on private property, or causes any injury to person or property, please call SIPOA security so that the matter can be properly investigated and all proper information recorded.
Following these rules that will help to keep our island safe for everyone’s enjoyment. And your comments will help guide us to decide what we should do about drones that will be in the best interest of all SIPOA Property Owners and Guests.