Thurman: County’s unmanned aerial vehicle plan up in the air

 

Seems like the recent privacy concerns raised by ACLU and others may have given Yavapai County the jitters.

Scott Orr

The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT – The unmanned aerial vehicle program approved by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors in November is hung up on some technical issues, Board Chairman Tom Thurman said.

At the board’s meeting Tuesday, two members of the public chose to bring up their opposition to the UAV program, even though it was not on the agenda.

The board voted to approve an agreement with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University that would allow the school to receive, at no cost, the Draganflyer X-8. It is a tiny craft, weighing just 60 ounces, and it folds up for transport. It’s a helicopter, so it does not need a runway to take off and land. The 15″-long X-8 can carry just a 2.2-pound payload, meaning a specially-designed still camera, video camera for live transmission, or infrared sensing gear.

One of the speakers, David DuVall, was back to restate his request for a public hearing on the use of drones. He complained that his previous requests for information and the hearing were ignored.

DuVall wanted to know why the agreement between the county and ERAU to obtain and fly the drone had been approved without public input.

“It’s just waiting for ERAU’s signature,” he said.

Things became heated as he pushed the board for answers, despite the fact that, when such issues take place during the “call to the public” portion of the meeting, the board is not supposed to discuss them because they were not made part of the public notice.

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