Town members want drone-hunting petition invalidated
Town Clerk has 5 business days to decide
Last Updated: 99 days ago
Deer Trail, Colo - Opponents of the proposed drone-hunting ordinance in Deer Trail challenged the validity of the election, and presented their case at a special meeting Wednesday night.
"When you 'Google' Deer Trail, Colorado now there is nothing but pages and pages of drone hunting ordinance and comments, and they’re ugly," said Jessica Stoumbaugh, a longtime resident who presented the challenge to the town clerk. "People think we’re hillbillies and idiots, and we’re not."
In the special meeting, Stoumbaugh pointed out the petition for drone hunting did not include dates with the signatures, as required by state law.
Nearly 100 residents have also signed a letter published in the local paper in opposition to the ordinance.
The man behind the petition, Philip Steel, said that was simply a technicality, and the town clerk, Kim Oldfield, should recognize the will of the people and not throw out the petition.
Oldfield said she would leave the decision to the city attorney, but has expressed her support for the ordinance.
"I think it will pass," said Oldfield earlier in the evening on the phone.
Oldfield claimed she had received more than 983 checks for licenses from all over the country, "And that's when I stopped counting."
She initially said she had been trying to return checks.
Later, after the special meeting, she refused to talk on camera, and said that she had received more than 983 letters, phone calls emails and some checks, but had not returned any checks.
Steel is already selling a "Drone Hunting License" online. The license is a certificate with a picture of a drone and the words, "A License To Hunt And Kill Drones Operating Within The Sovereign Airspace Of The Town Of Deer Trail, Colorado."
On the bottom left is a line for a signature of the sovereign Mayor of Deer Trail, along with a witness signature.
On the bottom right is a line to be signed by "the author of the ordinance - Phillip R. Steel."
Also at the bottom is a seal that says "Kill Them All -- Death From Below."
"Is this a scam?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.
"No, this is not a scam. This is not a license from the town of Deer Trail," said Steel.
He likened the drone-hunting certificate to the NFL licensing products to be sold bearing the logo of the NFL.
"Do people who buy this believe they can come to Deer Trail and start shooting in the air?" asked Zelinger.
"The people who buy this believe that if the federal government spies on them with drones, that no matter where they are, under the Constitution, they can fight back," said Steel. "The license says that it may not be recognized. It says, 'Kill Them All,' then it says, 'Death From Below.' There's tongue in cheek in here."
7NEWS asked the Deer Trail mayor why his signature appears on the document.
"Because it's a novelty," said Deer Trail Mayor Frank Fields. "If I end up losing this job, I can still sign as the sovereign mayor."
"Is it obvious that it's a novelty and not a real license?" asked Zelinger.
"It's not a real license," said Fields.
"Is that obvious?" asked Zelinger.
"Yes, I believe it's obvious, if you read the fine print," said Fields.
Fine print at the bottom of the license states: "License may not be recognized by tyrannical municipal, state or federal governments.
Steel said he had sold about 100 licenses, with most being sold outside of Colorado. He admits only around six have been sold to Deer Trail residents. He said he has broken even on his startup costs and will be donating some money to the town hall.
At a meeting on Tuesday evening, he donated $175 to the town.
7NEWS asked Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson if the licenses could be considered valid if a resident bought one and fired at drones.
Robinson told 7NEWS that he would not recognize the licenses and was under the impression they are being sold as a novelty
In a letter to the Deer Trail Board of Trustees last month, Robinson warned that residents could face criminal charges of reckless endangerment for errant rounds fired and prohibited use of a firearm if the person is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Last month, the Deer Trail Board of Trustees split 3-3 in a vote on a proposed ordinance to allow drone-hunting licenses. Residents of Deer Trail are supposed to decide the issue at the ballot on Oct. 8.
At the meeting Tuesday night, it was revealed the Board of Trustees failed to vote to approve the election date. The town clerk will verify Wednesday morning whether that's a technicality or if the trustees must meet again to set and approve an election date.
A special meeting is set for Sept. 18, in case the trustees must meet again to set the date.
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