St. Boni acts to protect its airspace against drones

By Emily Hedges

Forbidding government drones from entering St. Boni airspace may seem like a small gesture, but the city council feels it’s worth the city’s time and money.
During its Feb. 20 regular meeting, members of the St. Boni City Council voted to pass Resolution 2013-8 restricting drones in the City of St. Bonifacius. The move comes after Charlotteville, Va., became the first city in the United States to pass anti-drone legislation on Jan. 28.
The resolution states the council’s belief that the rapid implementation of drone technology ahead of federal, state and county guidelines, especially in use by police departments, poses a threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of Americans.
The council endorses a two-year moratorium on drones in the state of Minnesota and calls on the United States Congress and the Minnesota State Legislature to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a federal or state court.
“We support taking a step back for two years and let the state and county come up with policies and procedures for how to do it,” said St. Boni Mayor Rick Weible.
Council member Joe Arwood added, “We don’t want to exclude a lawful purpose (for use of drone technology), but we want to be aware when it happens.”
The resolution bans the operation of drones within the city air space by any individual, company, contractor, or government entity without a valid warrant, or where immediate danger of death or serious injury to any person exists. Flying of a drone without a warrant will be considered a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
The council voted unanimously to pass the resolution, which now goes to City Attorney Larry Harris to draft into a City Ordinance.

Auto aid agreement
After months of discussion, the final auto aid services agreement between St. Boni and Mound Fire Departments was brought to the council for approval.
The agreement is designed to provide supplemental services to St. Boni. According to the agreement, Mound will provide automatic fire service dispatch for six types of emergencies (aircraft incident, apartment, business, garage, house and school) Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the city limits of St. Boni. St. Boni will be charged based on an hourly rate chart that takes into consideration the type of incident and equipment used.
“This is fantastic and fiscally responsible,” said St. Boni Fire Chief Shane Weber. “It’s not common to have an auto aid agreement with money attached.”
This agreement does not alter the informal arrangement between the two fire departments in the area of Minnetrista protected by the two departments.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a contract with architect Martin Woody for the remodeling of the garage adjacent to the existing city offices and council chambers for use as a community center.
• Encouraged residents to pick up copies of the Gold Miner that may be littering city streets.