Drones for commercial use concern neighbors in La Vergne - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Drones for commercial use concern neighbors in La Vergne

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LAVERGNE, TN (WSMV) -

Folks in La Vergne are up in arms about a drone seen flying over homes last week. Now, they have the attention of city leaders and even state lawmakers.

Carolyn Hickerson, of Knollwood Drive, was at the bus stop waiting on her 6-year-old grandson when she noticed the drone and the man operating it in the Woodland Hills subdivision where she lives.

"I watched this thing go from home, to home, to home, to home with a camera taking pictures," Hickerson said.

It turns out the man works for a roofing company out of Florida, according to police. He was surveying rooftops, hoping to drum up some business.

"My concern is what if this falls in the wrong hands?" Hickerson said. "What if people that are child molesters or criminals who want to case the neighborhood and break-in, or an ex-husband with a restraining order try to use one?"

City leaders are also concerned.

"Where do you draw that line from your First Amendment rights versus invasion of privacy?" said Mayor Senna Mosley. "I truly believe a roofing company using this mechanism is an invasion of our citizens' privacy."

Channel 4 News did some checking and found out there is an FAA regulation preventing drones from being used for commercial purposes.

But Tennessee state law doesn't address the issue. It does, however, prohibit law enforcement officers from using drones, unless they get a warrant from a judge first.

"The current legislation limits the good guys but doesn't limit the bad guys with this technology, so the bad guys can do what they want," Hickerson said.

La Vergne city leaders are waiting on word from their legal department to see if an ordinance can be enacted requiring companies using drones to apply for a permit.

They said this is in no way meant to target the everyday hobbyist flying toy helicopters in the backyard with their kids.

Channel 4 News also learned a House and Senate bill has been introduced in the state legislature which would create a task force to study the commercial use of drones in the state.

"We need to become proactive with legislation, to catch up with technology, to prevent drones with cameras flying around your house taking pictures of your family," Hickerson said.

La Vergne city leaders will look at the drone issue more closely at next month's council workshop meeting.

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