Council approves drone ordinance in Hudson

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Hudson residents will have recourse against unwanted aerial visitors now that the Hudson Common Council has approved an ordinance regulating unlawful use of drones at its regular meeting Monday, Dec. 4.

The ordinance prevents the use of a drone with the intent to photograph, record or observe someone in a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like in their backyard or their residence.

Its creation was prompted by complaints from residents including Mike Sanders, who spoke to the Star-Observer in November.

"To me it was an invasion of privacy, and kind of borderline harassment," Sanders said about a drone that made several unwelcome appearances on his property.

Though state statute already regulates use of drones in this manner, the city ordinance makes it easier for local law enforcement to enforce.

"This way it's just write them a ticket," Police Chief Marty Jensen told the council.

Enforcement of this ordinance would be like any other complaint the police department receives—investigation before reporting to the court or issuing a fine.

"We need something to enforce," said Council Member Tom McCormick, who first requested an ordinance.

After some discussion, the council agreed to set the fine at $200, including court fees. The number was higher than some of the other proposed options. Mayor Rich O'Connor said the resources necessary to track down offenders should be considered in the fine.

"We're trying to prevent it from even happening," Council Member Randy Morrissette said.

The ordinance passed unanimously.

While this ordinance focuses on unlawful use of drones, Council Member Bill Alms said the council might want to have a future discussion on the use of drones as a whole. The use is regulated by the FAA, but whether the city should have further involvement would be a part of the discussion.