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Pine might ban some model planes from community park

| Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fans of large model rockets and remote-control airplanes might have to steer clear of Pine Community Park if supervisors decide next month to pass an ordinance to curb their use.

Banning fuel-powered model planes has been on the township's radar since last year when a large model rocket became stuck in high-voltage wires during Pine Community Day, said Gary Kohler, the township's manager.

"A rocket went up and got into the high-density wires by the community building. We worried about what might happen," he said.

Under the ordinance being considered, only smaller, battery-operated model rockets and planes would be permitted.

Pine supervisors could vote on the measure at their July 2 meeting. The proposed regulation is based on recommendations from Pine's recreation committee.

"We thought quite a while about what would be reasonable to allow and what sorts of model planes or rockets might really pose a danger to people," said Karen Pierson, who chairs the township's recreation committee.

Pine Community Park is home to a number of recreational sports leagues and outdoor movies during the summer. It also is the site of a planned community center, expected to open in January.

The ordinance is likely to pass with little opposition, said Michael Dennehy Jr., chair of Pine's board of supervisors.

"I think the model airplane enthusiasts we have in the community are supportive of the ordinance," Dennehy said. "We don't want large and fast planes flying around in this kind of a park, where there are almost always many people around."

In addition to prohibiting fuel-powered models, the ordinance would prohibit electric versions that weigh more than 4 ounces and travel at speeds of more than 10 mph.

Under the proposed regulations, models are prohibited from having sharp, metallic tips or propellers. Model rocket and airplane hobbyists also are prohibited from operating near other people.

Additionally, minors would only be permitted to operate planes under the supervision of an adult, and responsibility for risk and liability would be the operator's.

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