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Drones Reined In by City Council

By Ted Cox | November 18, 2015 12:20pm
 Christopher Morrison, owner of Robo Aerial, displays a drone in the City Council Chamber.
Christopher Morrison, owner of Robo Aerial, displays a drone in the City Council Chamber.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — The City Council set restrictions on drones and the city's own privatization deals Wednesday.

Moving to create an ordinance Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) called "the first of its kind in the United States," the new law on drones restricts them to a maximum height of 400 feet, bans them within five miles of O'Hare and Midway airports and forbids them to fly over people or private property without prior consent.

It dropped an earlier requirement for drone owners to register with the city and have ample insurance, as Waguespack said those concepts were adequately covered by existing federal laws.

The council passed the ordinance without opposition, as was the case with a new law setting standards for privatization deals. That established a 90-day period to consider any privatization deal worth $400 million or more, or anything involving city services worth $3 million, as well as calling for public hearings on any such matters.

"We will not have another parking-meter deal because of this," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), lead sponsor. "Transparency rules the day."

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said he submitted a similar ordinance 25 years ago, but it went nowhere under the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who later pushed through the notorious parking-meter deal.

"I congratulate Ald. Sawyer for taking this measure over the goal line," Moore added.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) called it "long overdue."

The council also passed an ordinance tweaking the tax on liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes, sponsored by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st). It changed the tax formula to reduce the cost by container, but increase the coast by milliliter, as Moreno said the containers were being refilled.

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