A federal judge ruled today that Newton went too far in banning drones from flying over the city without the prior permission of landowners whose property the drones might pass over.
US District Court Judge William Young's ruling is a victory for Michael Singer, a local doctor and drone aficionado who'd filed the suit earlier this year. In his ruling, Young wrote:
Newton’s choice to restrict any drone use below [400 feet] thus works to eliminate any drone use in the confines of the city, absent prior permission. This thwarts not only the FAA’s objectives, but also those of Congress for the FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace. Although Congress and the FAA may have contemplated co-regulation of drones to a certain extent, ... this hardly permits an interpretation that essentially constitutes a wholesale ban on drone use in Newton.
The Newton City Council said the ordinance was an attempt to protect residents' privacy.