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Council restricts model airplane use

CENTRAL POINT — Flying model airplanes will no longer be allowed in residential neighborhoods, the City Council decided Thursday, much to the ire of local enthusiasts.

This is just like restricting those portable basketball hoops, said Bruce Bennett, a model airplane enthusiast. What's next? Weed-eaters? That new sign they put up that says, 'Central Point, the Fair City' ' I don't think so anymore. It's not a fair city. It's not going to be a fun city, for sure.

City Administrator Phil Messina said model aircraft are now prohibited inside city limits with the exception of private property and school district land with written permission and city parks. The site must be 1&

189; acres or more.

In July, about a dozen Princess Way residents presented the council with a petition requesting the ban, citing excessive noise and safety concerns from aircraft flown by Bennett and his friend, Randy Banta.

— On Thursday, Banta and Bennett appeared with a petition containing three times as many signatures from residents saying they had no problem with the model planes.

Bennett said Banta's 12-year-old daughter collected signatures on the petition titled, Please Don't Take My Daddy's Hobby Away.

It took 11 signatures to get the bitching going, but our 35-plus didn't matter? Bennett said.

Princess Way resident Gordon Wood, who initiated the petition to ban the aircraft, was pleased with the council's decision.

Like I've said all along, there's a time and a place for everything and flying over a neighborhood is not the place, Wood said.

The City Council bent over backwards and they even found someplace that they'll be allowed to fly.

Kai Aiello, president of the Rogue Eagles R/C Club, said that amending the city's municipal code because of one incident was short-sighted and reactionary.

I'm sorry they took such a heavy-handed, broad-swept approach with something they know very little about, said Aiello, a Medford resident.

As a local club we try to follow the rules and be a good civil representation. — Obviously, we only encourage flying model airplanes in areas designated for such.

Dieter Mahlein, president of ShredAir, a model aircraft supplier, said Friday that the irresponsible actions of two individuals have caused a totally unnecessary and useless waste of energy.

(Banta) is so out of line, it is embarrassing for the rest of us, he said.

But the city could have dealt with the issue under the unnecessary noise ordinance that already exists, he said.

It's just very unfortunate that it had to come to this when there was certainly significant peer pressure (on Bennett and Banta) from the rest of us, he said.

Banta said Friday he was in disbelief that the issue had been blown so out of proportion.

I think they've made a law to cover just two people in one neighborhood, he said. It's just, knowing the hobby as I do, it would never become a widespread occurrence of flying models citywide.

He said his petition was not given the same consideration as the petition against the aircraft.

When I walked in (to the council meeting) I got the feeling it was a lynch mob, he said. No matter what you said, their minds were made up.

I think people are just grouches.

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.