Vail Town Council ponders creating a drone ordinance |

Vail Town Council ponders creating a drone ordinance

VAIL — The Vail Town Council will review the first reading of an ordinance that would regulate the recreational use of unmanned aircraft systems, or more commonly called drones, within the town at its regular evening session on Tuesday. The discussion of Ordinance No. 21 is listed as action item 4.1 on the meeting agenda, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers. There will be opportunities for public comment.

Consideration of Vail’s recreational drone ordinance follows updated regulations issued by the Federal Aviation Administration clarifying that all commercial drones must be registered with the FAA and operate according to FAA rules. The town of Vail cannot regulate commercial drones.

As such, Ordinance No. 21 applies only to the regulation of recreational drones within the town and includes the following requirements:

• Be flown below a maximum altitude of 400 feet above the ground.

• Weigh no more than 55 pounds at the time of operation, inclusive of equipment, payload and fuel.

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• Be flown within the visual line of sight of the person operating the drone.

• Not be operated over any person not directly involved in the operation.

• Not be flown near pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, roadways, parking lots, playgrounds, stadiums, sporting events, festivals or other open air assembly of persons, or areas or special events subject to an FAA notice of temporary flight restriction.

• Remain clear of and not interfere with manned aircraft operations or other drones.

• Be operated during daylight hours only.

• Not be operated from a moving vehicle or other aircraft.

• Be operated in compliance with all applicable law, including any regulations adopted by the FAA.

• Not be operated in a reckless or careless manner so as to endanger the health, safety or well-being of persons or property.

• Not be operated in pedestrian areas of Vail Village, Lionshead Village, including the town-owned parking structures in both Vail and Lionshead vilages, Ford Park and the area immediately surrounding the Vail Valley Medical Center heliport.

• Would not apply to law enforcement or emergency services operations.

• All recreational drone operators 13 years of age and older must register with the FAA if any of the drones they operate outdoors weigh more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds.

Town Can declare no drone zones

For commercial use application, the town of Vail Event Review Committee has included a section within the permitting process for documentation of FAA required information. The town would reserve the authority to authorize a no drone zone based on certain events that meet a safety and security criteria.

To view the proposed ordinance online, including a map of proposed prohibited areas of use, go to or to comment in advance of the meeting, email the Vail Town Council at For questions, contact Commander Craig Bettis at 970-479-2352 or email Town of Vail ordinances require two readings for adoption, including a public hearing.

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