As the weather has turned decidedly nicer over the past few weeks, some northeast Johnson County families may have been looking to try out one of the increasingly common drones that have become popular holiday gifts. But people looking to take a drone out for a spin in Mission Hills need to know about a new ordinance the city council approved in January.
Led by councilman David Dickey, the council unanimously approved a law that restricts use of drones in the city to the space over the drone owners’ private property or the private property of someone who has explicitly given consent to the drone pilot. The ordinance does not allow the use of drones over public property and limits flights in the city to 400 feet.
Dickey cited three issues in spearheading the effort to get the ordinance on the books: safety concerns, especially the potential for injury from a falling drone; privacy and the prevention of spying; and the potential for a person to use a drone to commit a crime. In at least two cases prior to the passage of the measure, drone pilots were operating the unmanned aerial vehicles over someone else’s private property without their consent.
The council passed the measure with the intent to review it in 12 months to ensure it was having its intended effect and that it synced with any state or federal regulations around drone usage that may be passed in the intervening months.
While council support for the measure was broad, Prairie Village Police Chief Tim Schwartzkopf, who oversees law enforcement for Mission Hills, said the measure could provide challenges for police. It would be difficult to identify the owner of an illegally flown drone in many cases, Schwartzkopf indicated, while noting that the council’s concerns about privacy and crimes were valid.
To date, Mission Hills is the only city in northeast Johnson County to have enacted such regulations.
Full copy of the Mission Hills drone ordinance is below: