Paradise Valley approves UAV regulations for private, commercial use

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, Dec. 3 approved local rules and regulations for drone usage withing town limits for both private and commercial uses. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, Dec. 3 approved local rules and regulations for drone usage withing town limits for both private and commercial uses. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, Dec. 2 unanimously approved rules and guidelines for unmanned aircraft to be flown for both private and commercial uses within town limits.

While the term “drone” has been embedded within media nomenclature, the true definition of the word suggests a completely autonomous aircraft with programmable GPS waypoints, according to remote-controlled aircraft enthusiasts.

The devices are used for a variety of purposes. Real estate agents use them to obtain aerial photographs of top-tier properties. In the public sector, unmanned aircraft are often used for surveillance purposes in municipalities such as Phoenix.

The Paradise Valley drone ordinance will include three distinct sectors of regulation: The private realm, the commercial realm and the public realm, officials say. Ordinance No. 691, which is an addition to Town Code Article 10-12, includes these basic provisions:

  • Private property use — residents will be allowed to use an unmanned aerial vehicle up to 500 feet within his or her own property as long as the flight does not record or photograph people and activities in neighboring backyards.
  • Commercial use — commercial users must (1) register with the Paradise Valley Police Department; (2) provide identification for the aircraft to be used; (3) make an online notification at least four hours prior to the date, time, location and contact information for the commercial user at the town’s website.
  • Emergency use — Emergency use, defined by the issuance of a warrant of code enforcement activities, will be allowed by a law enforcement agency in response to an emergency situation.

Town officials say the new ordinance will have several provisions allowing the municipality to initially administer warnings. In addition, if behavior ascends to a violation the first offense will be a civil fine up to $500.

However, if a user appears to be operating the device in a reckless manner, misdemeanor trespass charges, up to a $2,500 fine and six months in jail are penalties that could be assessed if users are found in violation of town code.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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