We were able to attain close to 3 miles range with iCOM IC-F4011 radios, in the city, through several buildings. The next LC OP that I'm going to isn't even that large. So range is achievable, it just costs some money.
Yeah its too bad there isn't a license free band that has decent gear avalible in the VHF range. My little hand held amateur radio can get better then 10 miles depending which antenna I am using for it on 5 watts, far greater with a repeater. I haven't played around much with the UHF ham bands to know the kind of range it has there.
But what important to know is just because a radio can operate on a certain frequency does not mean you are allowed to use it there. Here is alittle more reading material for anyone who is interested; forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?32772-HAM-amp-FRS