drone park

Michael Smith, a resident who lives near Pisgah Park, opposed the concept of a drone park in his back yard.

Pisgah, MD – A proposed drone park that would have been placed on an old landfill site in Pisgah never got off the ground.

According to Charles County Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation John Snow, the concept came about last winter when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was relaxing no fly zones around the Nation’s Capital.

With drones being restricted in most parks throughout the region, the thought occurred that there might be a window of opportunity for folks who like to fly them to come to Charles County to do it.

The original thought was that it would get folks in Washington, D.C. to come south to Charles County to fly their drones.

“We thought maybe it would drive a little tourism to Charles County,” Snow said.

Back when these type of restrictions were much tighter, the only area of the county which would have been available for having such a park was in its southernmost region.

Then the FAA relaxed the no-fly zone restrictions even further.

“That reduced the no-fly zone to just north of Pisgah,” Snow said. “We knew we had the old landfill site there. You can’t dig there. So, consideration for the drone park came up and we thought Pisgah Park would be a good place for it. It’s a 50-acre spot. But then the FAA restrictions were even more relaxed and so it didn’t seem like something we should pursue at that point.”

“Nobody was crying out for it,” he admitted.

Unfortunately for the county, some citizens were crying out against it.

Michael Smith, who was raising a one-man campaign against the proposal, said that Pisgah Park, the location of an old abandoned landfill is too close to residential properties for drone activity.

Smith said he received an email from Charles County Director of Parks and Recreation Eileen Minnick Sept. 15 informing him that the proposal would not be moving forward.

“Were we relieved? Absolutely,” Smith said.

He cited 180 signatures on a petition just from residents in the nearby communities opposing the plan.

“There are some folks who don’t like the thought of a drone flying over,” Snow said. “If you google drone parks in the United States, there aren’t any.”

He acknowledged that currently, drones are not allowed at the county’s parks.

“At this point, they would probably fall under the category of model airplanes and helicopters which are not allowed in the parks,” Snow stated.

He said that the county would not rule out pursuing such a venture in the future, but there would have to be a real interest.

“If people ask for it, we will revisit it,” he said. “The land is already there. It isn’t going anywhere.”

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com