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Author Topic: Tower restrictions, any attorneys or experienced hams? Need help  (Read 68798 times)
N2EY
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« Reply #30 on: December 23, 2010, 07:10:12 PM »

Have you figured out that you shouldn't have applied for a permit in the first place yet and instead should have used the effort to paint the tower and antennas flat black or go the flag pole or silo route? Never apply for a permit. You are just making it harder for other hams when you do that!  Undecided

The problem with that approach is that it can backfire in a big way.

All it takes is for someone to drop a dime on you. Then the folks who give out permits can make you remove it, plus fines, costs, etc. And just try getting a permit after the fact!

Of course IMHO the township is in the wrong in this case because they have made getting a permit unreasonably expensive and difficult. The gov't *does* have a responsibility to make sure the tower is installed safely and in accordance with good engineering practice, but that's a straightforward process, same as with any construction.

I am noting however that you seem to be able to buy a lot of property and engage in hobbies on Social Security. Things can't be that bad.  Wink

I suspect that AA2HA sold his place in an urban part of 2-land and bought his current home with the proceeds. One reason for the move may have been lower living costs.

IIRC, the tower was bought for him; he didn't spend a dime for it.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KI4SDY
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« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2010, 07:43:18 PM »

Most hams I know don't apply for permits and have no problem. The people that have problems do apply for permits. These days, you have to be smarter than the government to be a ham. If your not, you shouldn't be messing with high voltage equipment. Wink

We are talking about only a 70 foot tall tower on almost 3 acres of land. The only hazard is to himself. Anyone ought to be able to hide that on three acres, if it has any trees on it. If not, enough stealth suggestions were made to find a solution. Smiley

I hate to give financial advice, but maybe he should have bought a place outside of town for less and put the rest of the money in the bank. He might not have needed a permit at all then. Grin
« Last Edit: December 24, 2010, 05:58:25 AM by Guy "Vern" Wells » Logged
KF7CG
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« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2010, 06:13:13 AM »

From what I read, he isn't in Town just a township which is a zoning division.

Townships control rural areas outside of towns if they have been implemented. Think of a township as another name for a county.


KF7CG
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AB4D
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« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2010, 06:53:35 AM »

Have you figured out that you shouldn't have applied for a permit in the first place yet and instead should have used the effort to paint the tower and antennas flat black or go the flag pole or silo route? Never apply for a permit. You are just making it harder for other hams when you do that!  Undecided

I wouldn't follow the advice from KI4SDY, getting a permit is the proper way to go. Not getting a permit puts the ARS in a bad light, you always run the risk of the local government forcing you to take it down, and the risk that if something does happen your insurance company will not cover you because the installation was not inspected and passed by a building inspector.

There is a guy not too far from me that had 4 small various size towers on his one acre lot, he put them up without permits. They are now down because the county made him remove them last year.  There have been multiple instances of hams who have had to remove their towers because they did not obtain a permit first.  You can spend upwards of several thousands dollars and many hours of time to properly install a tower, it's a waste if you have to take it all down because you did not get a permit.

IMO what makes it harder for us is hams who put up towers without a permit. That type of action causes others to form stereotypes, that we are unwilling to follow the rules.

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KI4SDY
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« Reply #34 on: December 24, 2010, 08:17:48 AM »

Any idiot that puts up four towers on a one acre plot without trying to hide them, if he can, is asking for trouble and he found it! These are the dumb compulsive hams that give us a bad name and are the cause of these over restrictive regulations. Remember, I said you need to be smarter than government to safely operate high voltage ham equipment.  Roll Eyes

If it looks like a town and has a town council, it is a town! He should have bought in the county.  Grin

The original poster learned his lesson the hard way. He applied for a permit and now he will never be allowed to have a tower.  Cry 
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N2EY
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« Reply #35 on: December 24, 2010, 12:05:54 PM »

Most hams I know don't apply for permits and have no problem. The people that have problems do apply for permits.

That may be the situation where *you* are. But it's not the situation everywhere - and that's the problem.

Zoning, permits, and other regulations vary enormously from place to place and from state to state. What has worked where you are won't work everywhere.

In another post you say one should buy "in the county" and not "in the town". That may work in some places - but in others, local government is completely different.

For example, I live in Radnor Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. So there are state rules, county rules, and township rules. The county and state pretty much delegate authority to the townships and boroughs, except in the case of safety codes (where the national codes are the minimum) and transportation issues (where PennDOT holds sway).

All of Delaware County, PA is either township, borough, or city. Many other counties in PA are the same way, so there's no escaping township, borough or city rules in those counties. I'm not sure about Pike County.

Radnor Township's Code has a lot of rules about antenna towers - and a rule that almost none of them apply to amateur radio towers on residential property.

I used to live in New York State. That State is divided into Counties, and the Counties divided into Towns. A New York "Town" is often a hundred square miles or more!

An incorporated area inside a Town is a Village. When a Village grows big enough to encompass all or much of a Town, it becomes a City. In New York State, the only way to escape living in a Town is to live in a City, which is hardly the better choice.

Just to make it more interesting, towns and villages sometimes have the same name!

I lived in the Village of Palmyra, Town of Palmyra, Wayne County, New York.

The point of all this is that what matters when it comes to real estate is the actual rules where a ham lives, not what worked hundreds of miles away - or even a few miles away - where a completely different set of rules exists.

If you look up the location in question in this case, you'll see it's a rural, wooded area. The first big mistake made was the assumption that since it was a low-density rural area with zero CC&Rs, that there would be no trouble with towers. Which turns out not to be the case at all. The low density has actually worked against the amateur, because it turns out that the local govt. folks have no precedent for an amateur radio tower. There are simply too few people for the issue to have come up before.

The second big mistake (which many hams make, btw) is not allowing for miscellaneous costs. You see this all the time, and not just in tower/antenna installations.

73 de Jim, N2EY


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AB4D
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« Reply #36 on: December 24, 2010, 02:20:18 PM »

Any idiot that puts up four towers on a one acre plot without trying to hide them, if he can, is asking for trouble and he found it! These are the dumb compulsive hams that give us a bad name and are the cause of these over restrictive regulations. Remember, I said you need to be smarter than government to safely operate high voltage ham equipment.  Roll Eyes

If it looks like a town and has a town council, it is a town! He should have bought in the county.  Grin

The original poster learned his lesson the hard way. He applied for a permit and now he will never be allowed to have a tower.  Cry 

I agree, he was an idiot, but for not for having four towers on a one acre lot, but for not obtaining the proper permit for his towers. If he had, there would have been no trouble at all.  I just installed a new 72 foot crank up, and I will never have any trouble from the county or my insurance company, because I got a permit. Grin

Those who try to circumvent the rules, end up harming us as hams more than helping us, and I am always suspecious of those who want to sneak towers onto their properties without the proper permits, what do they have to hide? A lot of those "sneaky" installations are old second hand towers that can not meet the requirments of EIA-222, and should go to the scrap yard instead of up in the air.

The township has not told AA2HA that he cannot have a tower, they are telling him that he must obtain a CUP to have one, and he is arguing the point that he does not want to pay the extra cost.  I can understand where he is coming from, but nonetheless, he should not try to sneak one up.

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KI4SDY
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« Reply #37 on: December 24, 2010, 04:01:48 PM »

He will not get an antenna tower permit for these reasons:

1. He did not investigate before he bought concerning the local regulations on antenna towers.  Roll Eyes
 
2. After he found out about the regulations, he asked for an antenna tower permit.  Huh

3. It is obvious the Town Council does not want antenna towers in their neighborhood, so if they make an exception for him, they will have to do it for others. They will spend $100,000 or more, of his and other taxpayers money, fighting him in court to make sure he does not get an antenna tower.  Angry

4. Unless some of you rich hams are willing to loan him $100,000 for the legal fight, he might as well quit whining, wait a while and go stealth (by the way, it will be up to the judge if he wants to award payment of the attorney fees to the winner, here they hardly ever do that anymore to discourage lawsuits).  Lips sealed

I don't know what you guys are arguing about or what your point is, but the bottom line is he is not getting an antenna tower because of the course of action he chose and the results thereof. The facts are the facts!  Cry
« Last Edit: December 24, 2010, 06:15:41 PM by Guy "Vern" Wells » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #38 on: December 24, 2010, 06:36:27 PM »

Those who try to circumvent the rules, end up harming us as hams more than helping us, and I am always suspecious of those who want to sneak towers onto their properties without the proper permits, what do they have to hide?

It's just being a good neighbor to minimize visual impact.

But what you're talking about is a lot more. And yes, it does end up harming all of us because, when discovered, it destroys our credibility.

Suppose a ham sneaks up a tower without a required permit and gets away with it. Then another ham in the same area does the same thing, and another, and another.

Sooner or later one of the towers without a permit will be discovered and the authorities will make the ham take it down, and pay costs and a fine. Worse, the permit folks may go looking for other towers-without-permits, and do the same thing. Worst of all, the ham who tries to play by the rules will have a very tough go because of the bad reputation created by others.

A lot of those "sneaky" installations are old second hand towers that can not meet the requirments of EIA-222, and should go to the scrap yard instead of up in the air.

Safety is the #1 reason for building codes, inspections, standards and permits. There's an old saying that the code books are written in blood. So when a ham tries to go around such things, it makes all of us look very unqualified and unsafe.

The idea that "you'll only hurt yourself" may be attractive but it doesn't carry much water with the legal folks. We may not agree with that, but that's how it is.

And the truth is that very, very few hams are qualified structural engineers. I know a local ham who bought a used tower that looked great - on the outside. But it failed catastrophically when being put up - one of the tower legs had rusted on the inside. Fortunately no one was hurt and the property damage was minimal. He bought a brand-new tower and had no further problems.

The township has not told AA2HA that he cannot have a tower, they are telling him that he must obtain a CUP to have one, and he is arguing the point that he does not want to pay the extra cost.  I can understand where he is coming from, but nonetheless, he should not try to sneak one up.

I have been to Pike County, and AA2HA's township. My impression is that if he'd simply gone and put up the tower without permits he'd be in a heck of a lot of hot water because of it. Somebody would have seen it and started talking, because it would be new and unusual. Pretty soon the right (or wrong) person would hear of it, and the township folks would be making life miserable and expensive for him.

So IMHO he did the right thing to at least try for a permit.

Consider this story as an example:

http://www.eham.net/articles/24101

73 es MC de Jim, N2EY
« Last Edit: December 24, 2010, 07:02:02 PM by James Miccolis » Logged
KI4SDY
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« Reply #39 on: December 24, 2010, 09:45:26 PM »

Yes, he did the "right thing" according to the government regulation politically correct types. He even paid an initial $150 fee, knowing that he could not afford to go through the entire process or be able to hire an attorney to defend his position. As a result, his application fee is soon to expire and he will lose his $150. He says things are financially tight, but I would not be able to afford to throw away $150 and I am not living on Social Security disability payments. I work for a living to support myself and the people on Social Security). Tongue

So again, what is the result of doing the "right thing?" Well, he will lose his $150 application fee and he will never have a tower as long as he lives in that town. If he wants one, he will have to sell his house and move!  Cool

If he had used the stealth method, he would have had it up until it was discovered, which may have been never and the fine might have only been $150 if he got caught, which is doubtful. Usually, they will give you time to come into compliance, remove it or request a hearing on the violation. A lot of choices there! Wink

I am still trying to figure out why someone would need a tower to just reach 70 feet anyway. Sturdy push up poles and proper guying could do that, cheap. Then, you don't have to call it a "tower." You can put a UHF TV antenna on it, along with your other antennas and call it a "TV antenna pole." Plus, it is easier to hide from the neighbors. Grin

 
« Last Edit: December 25, 2010, 01:18:03 AM by Guy "Vern" Wells » Logged
KF7CG
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« Reply #40 on: December 25, 2010, 08:02:38 AM »

The problem the poster had when he purchased the property was that the regulations were mute (no regulations) on Amateur Radio Towers, no prohibitions, no HOA rules, and no CC&Rs, just a provision to apply for a building permit. You have to have a permit to put up a garage, pave your driveway, or make any improvements to your house. So unless the tower was applied for before the house was purchased there was no reasonable way to know that towers would be prohibitted. No way to know that it would require a special (conditional) use permit.

You now (it this holds up) can no longer buy rural property outside of developments, towns, and other cities with know restrictions and expect to be allowed a tower, you must at least attemp to obtain a permit before the purchase if it is possible to do so. Of course such things can change before the tower goes up. It is no longer wise to buy a place that has no permitting regulations expecting to put up a tower later when you can afford it, since the powers that be can change their mind at any time if the regulations are not written.

When buying a home now, we as Amateurs must insist that a specific addition become part of our offer letter. That provision must specify that the seller and that the realtors and other knowledgable parties to the transaction affirm that towers are allowed and the limits that may be applied. This must be accomplished before the offer to purchase is accepted.

Awful tight, but that looks where things are going.


KF7CG
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KI4SDY
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« Reply #41 on: December 25, 2010, 09:28:26 AM »

Oh, there were rules concerning antenna towers when he bought the property. No antenna towers on private property! The problem is, he did not check the regulations and ask questions before he bought the property. He has only himself to blame. It is a shame, but those are the facts as he related them.  Embarrassed

Oh yes, there are plenty of places left in America where you can buy property where there are no regulations concerning antenna towers and very little regulations for much else. However, they are not where your wife would allow you to buy. That is why I am not married! I will give you a hint. They are not in any of the socialist states like New York, California and now Florida (with all the yankees we have flooding in here that demand such restrictions). However, none of my ham friends that have erected towers without asking for a permit had any problems. We did have one dufus that moved into a small city near here and asked for a permit. He will either have to pay thousands of dollars to put it up or forget it. He is whining like this guy and guess what? He didn't check the regulations first either. Just as a side note, he is  currently collecting unemployment. Go figure!  Wink

Anyway, the bottom line is, he will never have an antenna tower in that town! If he wants a tower, he will have to move!  Cry

The purchasing requirements for antenna friendly property in the contract for sale is a very good idea and one that any of us that actually wear the pants in the family should insist on!  Grin
« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 08:42:12 AM by KI4SDY » Logged
KF7CG
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« Reply #42 on: December 25, 2010, 01:57:24 PM »

As I understandy it, there were no "WRITTEN" rules about antennas. The only way to find out about antennas was to apply for or try to apply for a permit.

It is now apparent for all, that henceforth Amateurs must assume that all antennas are prohibitted everywhere and militantly attack the problem of permission for towers before even making an offer. All offers must be contingent on a irrevocable promise to grant a permit for antenna contsruction with reasonable fee and maintenance rules all to be agreed to by the seller and the local governments before an offer becomes binding.

The state involved even has a law in place saying that the townships shall provide reasonable accomodation. The townships idea of reasonable and the rest of the worlds is definitely out of sync.

For those who say do your home work, is it reasonable to try to apply for a tower permit before you even by a property? Since most boards do not work with hypotheticals they may well decline to answer anybody other than a legal jurisdiction regarding permits. When you are an owner then you get the no.

KF7CG
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KI4SDY
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« Reply #43 on: December 25, 2010, 04:09:30 PM »

In the original inquirer's first post and second paragraph he states; "At first I was denied and told that "No towers are allowed on private property in the township." Everything else you just said was absolutely correct!  Wink

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N2EY
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« Reply #44 on: December 25, 2010, 08:23:09 PM »

As I understandy it, there were no "WRITTEN" rules about antennas. The only way to find out about antennas was to apply for or try to apply for a permit.

It is now apparent for all, that henceforth Amateurs must assume that all antennas are prohibitted everywhere and militantly attack the problem of permission for towers before even making an offer.

The rule in this case is against *towers*, not antennas. BIG difference. One can have very effective HF antenna systems without a tower.

What makes a "tower" such a big deal to the real-estate folks is that it's a structure, with all sorts of safety, insurance, liability and structural issues. In a place such as where AA2HA lives, their only concepts of "tower" are formed by broadcasting towers and cell phone towers, which are usually very high structures that are very visible. The idea of an amateur radio tower on a residential property hasn't occurred to them. Their rules don't cover it, really, so they say it's not allowed.

 
All offers must be contingent on a irrevocable promise to grant a permit for antenna contsruction with reasonable fee and maintenance rules all to be agreed to by the seller and the local governments before an offer becomes binding.

That's fine as far as it goes. Such a requirement would work in a buyer's market such as we have today. But in the seller's market of a few years ago you'd never get an offer accepted with a condition like that.


The state involved even has a law in place saying that the townships shall provide reasonable accomodation. The townships idea of reasonable and the rest of the worlds is definitely out of sync.

I suspect that's because nobody has ever pushed the issue before. The township involved has fewer than 7000 residents, which means maybe 16 hams at the current ratio of hams to US population.

For those who say do your home work, is it reasonable to try to apply for a tower permit before you even by a property? Since most boards do not work with hypotheticals they may well decline to answer anybody other than a legal jurisdiction regarding permits. When you are an owner then you get the no.

I think the "homework" consists of the following:

1) Determine what CC&Rs exist on the property and exactly what they say. Be particularly on the look out for things that don't mention towers or antennas but could be interpreted that way. For example, if it says that no structure shall exceed a certain height, remember that a tower could be considered a structure.

2) Determine what the various zoning codes and ordinances say and do not say.

3) Determine the actual process of getting a permit for an amateur radio tower. You don't have to be a landowner to ask about process.

4) Determine how many other hams have put up towers there in recent times and what they went through in cost, paperwork, etc.

5) Retain qualified legal counsel to verify your information. Just because you or I thinks a legal document says something doesn't mean the courts, lawyers, etc. interpret it that way.

(Y'know, it's almost funny. Many hams today wouldn't dream of trying to repair their own rigs today, let alone design or build them. Too technical and complicated. Yet many if not most of those same hams think they are qualified to act as their own legal counsel and structural engineering experts).

But all this is really beside the point.

We can play the coulda-woulda-shoulda game forever. It's easy to be critical from a long distance away.

But what really matters now is how we can help AA2HA. He's stuck with a $6000 tower lying in his yard and no resources to get a permit to put it up. (How it would get put up if the permit were obtained is another problem).

It seems to me that there are several courses of action possible:

1) Put it up without a permit. This is very risky because the township may go bonkers, and AA2HA cannot claim ignorance now. Since AA2HA probably cannot do the work all by himself, others could get sucked into legal problems if they help out.

2) Try to raise money to pay the required fees. Problem is, there's no guarantee of success. 

3) Try to get pro-bono legal help to convince the township that they are in violation of the state law which codifies PRB-1. Writing and calling one's state and federal representatives (both levels) should be part of this. It would probably help to have local hams also write on his behalf.

4) Put up an antenna system that doesn't need a tower. A simple coax-fed trap inverted V, center-supported by TV masting on the roof of the house, or on a push-up pole alongside the house, is one possibility. It may not be perfect but it's a lot better than nothing.

Seems to me that 4) and 3) are the best way to go. Selling the tower is probably a good idea too.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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