Schaumburg to ban drones at special events
Driven by concerns about public safety, Schaumburg trustees are poised to enact a ban Tuesday on the use of drones within 100 feet of public property during special events.
Among the prohibited venues would be the village's municipal grounds during the Septemberfest event over Labor Day weekend and Boomers Stadium when a baseball game, concert or the American Cancer Society's annual Relay For Life is going on there.
Boomers Stadium is public property because it's co-owned by the village of Schaumburg and Schaumburg Park District. The Schaumburg Boomers baseball team leases the facility.
The proposal stems from a conversation at last month's village transportation committee meeting, and not influenced by anything taking place in another municipality, Schaumburg Transportation Director Karyn Robles said.
Chris Staron, policy analyst for the Northwest Municipal Conference, said the organization has not been asked about drone regulations by any of its 44 member municipalities.
The proposed ordinance in Schaumburg defines public property as that owned by any government body -- including park, school and library districts.
It exempts drones being used by the village government or someone contracted by the village to monitor or document a special event, which is defined as any event held outdoors on public property involving the gathering of people.
While that definition is deliberately broad, the intent of the ordinance is to restrict drones from more populated special events such as Septemberfest, the Summer Breeze concert series and Boomers games, Robles said.
Smaller events like Little League games are not the reason the ordinance was created, and the village's legal counsel would have to interpret the applicability, she added.
The village hasn't yet experienced any reported misuse of a drone during public gatherings, but Trustee Tom Dailly, who chairs Schaumburg's transportation committee, cited as an example of the problems they could create the recent case of singer Enrique Iglesias injuring his hand during a concert by trying to grab a drone.
"They're really a great device, but I got concerned about the possibility of them flying over Septemberfest," Dailly said. "There is a danger to them. They're lightweight and relatively inexpensive. I felt we had an obligation to protect the public."
The use of drones on public property when a special event isn't going on will still be permitted, Dailly said. The open space of a public park is probably the best place for people to practice using them, he added.
The state already has several laws on the books governing the use of drones. One requires police agencies to adhere to search warrant standards when deploying drones for surveillance. Another bans the use of drones to interfere with hunting and fishing.
Naperville also is considering drone usage. The city's fire department bought a drone in May to assist in its safety operations, but its actual use is still awaiting the writing and approval of standard operating procedures to ensure it is never used inappropriately.
If approved at Schaumburg's village board meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the ordinance would take effect immediately, Robles said.