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How drone use may affect commercial real estate

Experts on robotics say that the drone revolution is coming to Maryland, and it will bring both enormous benefits and serious legal conundrums. The number of drones in the skies over the state is expected to grow dramatically in the next few years. Drones will be delivering packages, monitoring traffic, helping to respond to emergencies, assisting with construction crews and handling other tasks as well. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict precisely what usage American citizens will begin to make of their sky, and this requires serious thought from the legal point of view.

For example, it is unclear precisely what kind of zoning would be necessary for a commercial tenant who wishes to engage in substantial drone activity. If the flight path of a tenant's drones were to disturb another tenant or an adjacent property, then it has yet to be determined precisely what rights the aggrieved occupants have to prevent and interdict air traffic. Zoning ordinances could have tremendous impact on these issues, but in many cases these ordinances have yet to be deliberated.

There are also issues of sensitive air space. Some areas will have to be able to prevent all drone traffic from crossing over, while others will only forbid it below a certain attitude. The power of enforcement over these infractions must also be determined.

An attorney's assistance may be welcome to those who wish to navigate these legal issues. A lawyer who understands premises liability and commercial aviation could help a real estate owner who has questions about drones.

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