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West Lafayette City Council To Vote On Drone Regulations

Richard Unten

A new West Lafayette law could extensively regulate private and commercial drone-flying in the city limits.

The West Lafayette city council is set to hear an ordinance this evening that places new flight rules on drones, such as keeping the aircraft within the pilot’s line of sight at all times and prohibiting flying more than 50 feet in the air.

Councilman Steven Dietrich sponsored the ordinance and says he’s not aware of any drone-related incidents, but wants to stay ahead of the curve – and he feels the council will agree.

“We’re trying to issue some local control before it gets to be a problem,” Dietrich says. “So I don’t anticipate it being too much of an issue.”

The council is expected to vote on drone-flying regulations at its meeting this evening.

The ordinance would place a $25 registration fee on the aircraft and prohibit flying drones onto someone else’s private property or dropping anything from the drone.

Dietrich says the rules are to protect privacy and promote safety.

“In the public area, we have a safety factor to consider too so we’re just trying to put some controls on it – not trying to stop anybody from having it or enjoying them,” Dietrich says.

One major difference between this ordinance and Purdue’s own drone regulations is the maximum altitude rule -- the school’s cap is 400 feet, while the ordinance caps flights at 50 feet.

The discussion comes at a time when some companies – such as Amazon, with which Purdue University already has a preferential relationship – wants to expand the practice of delivering packages via drone.

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