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Author Topic: Opinions on interpretation of Zoning Definition  (Read 10722 times)
KB3THX
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Posts: 12




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« on: March 05, 2012, 02:45:52 PM »

Wondering if I could solicit opinions on my interpretation of the following definition from my Borough's Code:

"COMMUNICATIONS ANTENNA — any device used for the transmission or reception of radio, television, wireless telephone, pager, commercial mobile radio service or any other wireless communications signals including, without limitation, a cell site, omnidirectional and whip antennae, or directional and panel antennae, owned or operated by any person or entity licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate those devices. This definition shall not include private residence mounted satellite dishes not exceeding three feet in diameter or television antennae or amateur radio equipment including, without limitation, ham or citizen band radio antennae that do not exceed 50 feet in height from the ground in the R-1 Low Density Residential District, R-1A Low Density Residential District, R-2 Suburban Residential District, R-2A Suburban Residential District, R-3 Medium Density Residential District, R-3A Medium Density Residential District, and 70 feet in all other zoning districts."

My (hopeful) interpretation, based on the bolded test, is that I can put up an antenna tower on my lot as long as the top of the antenna does not exceed 50 feet.  I am interpreting the words "amateur radio equipment" to include a tower structure on which to mount an antenna, and linking "private residence mounted" only to "satellite dishes."  Am I being disingenuous, or is that a reasonable interpretation?  The "special exception" portion of the code is clearly geared towards commercial towers, and would be too onerous to even consider.

Thanks for any advice!

Scott KB3THX
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WX7G
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Posts: 6134




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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2012, 02:52:43 PM »

To me it is clear; you can install the antenna you described.
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N4UM
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Posts: 476




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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2012, 05:59:32 PM »

I'm not a lawyer but the thing certainly seems to speak for itself and what it says seems to be good news for you!
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KB3THX
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 06:14:26 PM »

I'm not a lawyer but the thing certainly seems to speak for itself and what it says seems to be good news for you!

Yeah, but I suspect they might have meant for "private residence mounted" to apply to all items in that sentence, meaning it's OK to mount an antenna on my roof to 50', but it's not express permission to erect a separate tower to do so  Undecided.  I'm sure ten attorneys in a room would have fun arguing that sentence  Grin!

Scott
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AA4PB
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2012, 05:14:33 AM »

By "private residence" I presume they are talking about the lot rather than the actual building structure. If you are considering a tower, even though you have the right to have one, you may still need a building permit and inspections to ensure it is installed according to code.
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AI8P
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Posts: 118




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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2012, 09:29:27 AM »

You will need a building permit, most likely.   And that will be when you find out what that all means.   My own municipal zoning code contains an explicit exception - antennas are exempt from all height restrictions.

However, the Building Inspector says the tower is not exempt (antenna support structure is not an antenna), and it can only be 35 feet high.   My sketch of the tower as an antenna did not persuade him. 

So, don't count your chickens before they hatch.

BTW, if you go ahead and build without a building permit, you are clearly in the wrong and they absolutely can make you take it down or they can take it down and charge you for it - get the permit.

Good luck!
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N3WAK
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2012, 02:11:22 PM »

Scott--It looks to me that the language which you quote is just a definition of "communications antenna."  The definition does not include amateur radio equipment, to include certain antennas, in certain areas.  There isn't an allowance, or prohibition, of antennas, whether "communications antennas" or ham radio antennas, in the language you quote.  Just a definition, and that isn't enough for us to give you a more-or-less definitive eham guess. 

What you should find is other language that pertains to amateur equipment or antennas in the regulations to see what's permitted. 

As others suggest, you may need a building permit, and, depending on whether your neighborhood has private contractual restrictions like CC&Rs, there may be additional restrictions on antennas. 

You can always call the planning/zoning folks and ask as to municipal/county limitations.  But at least as to municipal/county limitations, the language you quote suggests that you live in an antenna-friendly area.  But, you need to double-check.  Good luck! 

This isn't meant to be legal advice--just friendly advice from one ham to another.  73, Tony
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WA8JNM
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Posts: 175




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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2012, 04:18:44 PM »

Scott,

Well, I am a lawyer and I see no ambiguity.  A ham antenna less than 50 feet high in the designated zoned areas is not included within the definition of a "Communications Antenna", per that section. But what does exclusion from the definition mean in the other portions of the statute not quoted?  You are here only interpreting the definition of the term "communications antenna" as to exclude a less than 50 foot amateur antenna.

Dave
WA8JNM

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KQ6Q
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Posts: 988




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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2012, 12:02:52 PM »

You've quoted the code definition of a Communications Antenna, but not the other sections of the code that refer to the definition. They may be trying to slow down the proliferation of Cell Phone towers by all the different carriers. Do read the rest of the code, but the antenna definition seems to be keeping your options open. Just don't go wild to see what the limits are. 50 feet or less, and structurally sound, capable of handling the wind and ice conditions that are likely in your neighborhood. As recommended, plan your installation, and check with your local government to see if a building permit is required.
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K1VR
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2012, 08:02:01 PM »

The definition quoted doesn't get you even close to an answer to your real question, which is, in essence: "What law applies to what I want to do?"

If the section quoted is from the "Wireless Communications Facilities" bylaw, what it really means is that ham antennas more than 50 feet high require the same treatment as cellular telephone antenna systems. That's likely illegal. What happens after that is another discussion.

If the section quoted applies across the whole bylaw, it says nothing about other applicable sections that may deal with accessory uses, other height restrictions in your zone, set backs, required yards, building code requirements, permit processes for any construction if your lot is non-conforming, etc. Some of those sections could also apply to your situation.

Even of your proposed construction is "as of right," you'll probably still need a building permit, but the section you quoted doesn't tell us whether or not that's true.

Read the WHOLE THING, the WHOLE zoning ordinance. And for guidance, my book, "Antenna Zoning for the Radio Amateur, 2d. Ed." should prove helpful (shameless plug). For more about the book, see  www.antennazoning.com.

BE SURE TO READ THIS:  You have not asked me to be your lawyer, and I have not agreed to be your lawyer.  You may not rely on this advice as if I were, because -- no surprise here -- I am not your lawyer.

-- Fred K1VR
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W3WN
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Posts: 212




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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 07:35:20 AM »

Wondering if I could solicit opinions on my interpretation of the following definition from my Borough's Code:

"COMMUNICATIONS ANTENNA — any device used for the transmission or reception of radio, television, wireless telephone, pager, commercial mobile radio service or any other wireless communications signals including, without limitation, a cell site, omnidirectional and whip antennae, or directional and panel antennae, owned or operated by any person or entity licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate those devices. This definition shall not include private residence mounted satellite dishes not exceeding three feet in diameter or television antennae or amateur radio equipment including, without limitation, ham or citizen band radio antennae that do not exceed 50 feet in height from the ground in the R-1 Low Density Residential District, R-1A Low Density Residential District, R-2 Suburban Residential District, R-2A Suburban Residential District, R-3 Medium Density Residential District, R-3A Medium Density Residential District, and 70 feet in all other zoning districts."

My (hopeful) interpretation, based on the bolded test, is that I can put up an antenna tower on my lot as long as the top of the antenna does not exceed 50 feet.  I am interpreting the words "amateur radio equipment" to include a tower structure on which to mount an antenna, and linking "private residence mounted" only to "satellite dishes."  Am I being disingenuous, or is that a reasonable interpretation?  The "special exception" portion of the code is clearly geared towards commercial towers, and would be too onerous to even consider.

Thanks for any advice!

Scott KB3THX
Scott,

Drop an email to Mike K3AIR, who is the Volunteer Counsel for Western PA (yes, I realize you're in Eastern PA).  He can give you a better idea of what is permitted as defined in this bit of legalese than I ever could.  Mike can also put you in touch with the EPA VC should you need additional help; sorry, I don't know who his counter-part is, but I'm sure he does!
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K7KB
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Posts: 607




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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2012, 02:51:12 PM »

I would cure this opinion with one easy fix. First I would load the tower as a vertical radiator and make it into a antenna. Then if the building inspector didn't believe you, then I would say "How about holding the tower while I key up my Kilowatt amplifier."  Grin

But as Fred advises, make sure you read the entire zoning. For example, in the county I live in, Amateur Radio towers are classified as "Towers, Private", with a height restriction of 75 feet. However, there is an entirely different section for Wireless Communications Facilities (Cell towers) with a lot more stringent building codes. The biggest challenge I had when applying for my permit was convincing the Building and Planning drones that a Amateur Radio tower is not the same as a Wireless Communications tower, both for the building codes and engineering specifications. It can be done, but takes a lot of research on your part.

John K7KB

You will need a building permit, most likely.   And that will be when you find out what that all means.   My own municipal zoning code contains an explicit exception - antennas are exempt from all height restrictions.

However, the Building Inspector says the tower is not exempt (antenna support structure is not an antenna), and it can only be 35 feet high.   My sketch of the tower as an antenna did not persuade him.  

So, don't count your chickens before they hatch.

BTW, if you go ahead and build without a building permit, you are clearly in the wrong and they absolutely can make you take it down or they can take it down and charge you for it - get the permit.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: March 20, 2012, 03:09:37 PM by K7KB » Logged
NA0AA
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Posts: 1042




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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2012, 08:55:13 AM »

From my reading, it's a fifty foot limit in some zoning and seventy feet in the others.

Since a tower needs a building permit, they will tell you, but for planning and design, I'd say you know where to start.
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