Rio Rancho City Council to consider partial drone ban

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico city could ban the use of drones over private property to keep peeping Toms at bay. These potential changes to the city’s public nuisance policy come after people have complained about privacy issues.

For more than 40 years, Victor Velasquez has called Rio Rancho home.

“When I first moved here in 1970 there were less than 10,000 people here and now there is almost 100,000,” Velasquez said.

Now, his beloved city has become a popular spot for drone users.

“I’ve heard them and I haven’t really seen one,” Velasquez said.

For other residents, the drone debate is hitting close to home. City Councilor Marlene Feuer said she started receiving complaints of harassment and intimidation by drone users.

“They were all women, these drones were coming and peeping in their windows without knowing them,” said City Councilor Marlene Feuer.

Wednesday night, the city council will hear the first reading of an amended public nuisance ordinance that includes a partial drone ban.

“They just shouldn’t be on private property following people, looking in their windows, going to their backyards,” Feuer said.

Feuer said this is not an anti-drone ordinance and owners can fly well above neighborhoods or over public property.

“I support drones, I support the use of drones for recreational purposes for beautiful filming of landscapes,” Feuer said.

With the harassment complaints the city has received, officials want to have a clear policy in place so law enforcement will know how to respond if a drone does enter private property.

“I don’t want someone spying on my house or peeping in my windows with a drone. I have daughters and I definitely don’t want someone peeking in my windows,” said resident Arthur Famiglita.

If the amended policy does pass it will be a misdemeanor charge for the illegal use of a drone. It would carry up to three months of jail time or a fine of up to $500.

No word yet on when city council could vote on the proposal. Of course, it is already illegal to spy on someone in their bedroom or bathroom under the state’s voyeurism laws

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