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Author Topic: Here's my situation. What would you do?  (Read 14604 times)
KD5NLV
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Posts: 31




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« on: June 28, 2012, 01:55:07 PM »

I want to put up a 54' crank-up tower with a medium size tribander, but the height limit in my area is 32' above ground. I've done some research as well as read K7LXC's book so I have a basic, yet limited understanding of the process of getting a permit. I also know it could take a very long time and cost a ton of money just to get denied in the end.

Within a 1/2 mile of my home there are 3 towers ranging from approx 40 - 60'. I emailed 2 of them and they said they did not go through the permit process and just put it up. All 3 towers have been there for at least 15 years.

I know the "right" thing to do is apply for a permit and go through the process. However, I'm feeling a bit impatient (I've been here 30 years using crappy antennas, and I dont have an extra few thousand dollars to get permits, hire lawyers etc. So.... since I plan on keeping the tower nested (26') most of the time I'm leaning towards just putting the darn thing up. There wont be a problem with any of the neighbors for a couple of reasons. They dont speak english and there are some questions of citizenship for a few. Oh, and the occassional aroma of weed. I dont think they would want to attract the attention.

I guess my question is what would you do?


Thank you

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K5LXP
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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2012, 02:39:33 PM »

How much research have you done about your specific zoning ordinances?  In many places amateur towers are specifically exempt from certain restrictions.  Even if you're willing to risk the consequences of a non-permitted structure you should know exactly what code(s) you're violating.   For all you know a variance amounts to getting your neighbors to sign off on it.  Research your ordinances and find out.

Understand that it may impact your homeowner's policy.  It would really suck to have the thing come down and hit yours or your neighbor's property and have the claim denied because of the non-permitted structure.  My agent flat out told me they would revoke my policy in the event of non-permitted structures on the property.

It would also really suck to have the city/county red tag the thing and force you to take it down even if it is installed to the letter of the specification.  It wouldn't take a disgruntled neighbor to turn you in, it could be the guy reading the water meter.  You can't fight city hall and there's no point in pissing them off unnecessarily.

To do this right is going to be thousands of dollars even without factoring in the permitting, so if money is your concern you can save yourself a step and forget it right now.  There is a whole host of hardware and materials that add up very quickly.

What I would do:  If you can easily get the permit for 32' that might be a way to get it put in by the book.  If you install it per the code as though you were going to winch it up all the way (setbacks, foundation, grounding, etc) then you're covered for 32' now, and later higher, for such time you get a variance or decide you can get away with it.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

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N4JTE
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Posts: 1160




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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2012, 05:20:04 PM »

Two issues here that need to be considered when no permit applied for or approved.
1; Hire an engineer to design the construction of the tower footing and guying based on design height and weight, wind loading etc. Probaly a grand. Save the sealed set of design drawings and make sure he signs off on tower installation, probaly another $500.
2; Keep it nested when not in use, you be surprised how 35ft and 54 ft really does not make the greatest differance every day so at 35ft you will be good to go a great portion of the time

Regards,
Bob
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KI4SDY
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« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2012, 06:55:32 PM »

I would have put the tower up and left it in the crank down position most of the time. Your neighbor hams have enjoyed theirs for years without a permit.  Wink
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AA4PB
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Posts: 13032




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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2012, 05:59:05 AM »

Even if I were going to install it without a permit, I'd want to know what the code requirements for the permit are. Even without a permit and inspection it is better to install it according to the requirements.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6328




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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2012, 07:33:56 AM »

Are you running an amplifier? You can put out a better signal with a dipole up 35' and a kW than 100 watts to a tribander up 35'.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20666




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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 10:00:48 AM »

Are you in Amarillo?

If so, can you cite the actual municipal code that includes the tower restriction?

I looked a bit, like here http://www.amarillo.gov/?page_id=2553 and throughout the building codes for Amarillo and couldn't find anything pertaining to amateur radio towers, or really any kind of antenna towers.

Where is it in the code?
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KD5NLV
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Posts: 31




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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2012, 10:54:00 AM »

Hey guys, thanks so much for the replies.

WB2WIK - thank you for taking the time to look it up. The QTH is Santa Ana, CA. It's my relatives home. Due to work, I plan on spending most of my time there. I tried to look up the muni code online. It was a bunch of jibberish but there was a reference to antennas and a height of 32'. http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientID=14452&stateID=5&statename=California. The lady on the phone from the building dept told me it was 32'.

WX7G - I'll be running 800w. Been there done that with the dipole. It's time for a tower and beam. Everyone else has one...


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WB2WIK
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2012, 12:50:13 PM »



WB2WIK - thank you for taking the time to look it up. The QTH is Santa Ana, CA. It's my relatives home. Due to work, I plan on spending most of my time there. I tried to look up the muni code online. It was a bunch of jibberish but there was a reference to antennas and a height of 32'. http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientID=14452&stateID=5&statename=California. The lady on the phone from the building dept told me it was 32'.

Don't believe what people tell you, on the phone or even in person, as half the time they're wrong about such data.

I was assuming Amarillo, not Santa Ana, which is a whole lot closer to me and I know a lot of people here.  I'd first recommend you contact David WA6TWF: corsiglia@me.com is his mobile e-mail address, it goes with him.  David put a HUGE amateur radio tower up in Santa Ana as part of his "Super Station."  I haven't driven past lately, but I guess it's still there.

Also there's an HRO store in Anaheim on Euclid, just south of the 91 Freeway, that can provide advice on local regulations for most of the towns around there.  Hams who live there are almost always more knowledgeable than City representatives in any capacity.

I live in L.A. and asking the local Building & Safety administrators, up to and including senior Engineering staff, is almost always pointless.  They go by hunches, rumors and guesses and rarely bother looking anything up.  When you actually have the code in your hand, then you know what the regulations actually are. Wink
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K7KB
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Posts: 618




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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2012, 06:57:11 PM »

I was not able to find a specific zoning regulation for the city of Santa Ana concerning amateur radio towers, but here is the zoning regulation for Orange County:

"Sec. 7-9-129.2. Antennas.
Radio and television antennas, not including dish antennas, may exceed the district building
height limit by ten (10) feet. However, FCC licensed amateur ham radio operators may have radio
towers seventy (70) feet in height measured from ground level.
A higher height limit for all antennas
may be provided by a use permit approved by the Zoning Administrator per section 7-9-150."

As others pointed out, most Building and Planning people actually know very little about what's in their own zoning code or building regulations. They are just the worker bees to do the paperwork. So it's always best to do a little digging on your own to get the truth.

John K7KB

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W3WN
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Posts: 234




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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2012, 08:28:52 PM »

What would I do?

I'd contact the local Volunteer Counsel and make sure that my installation was, legally speaking, air tight.  

Cheaper to do it RIGHT the first time, than to try and pull a fast one, get caught, and have to fight in court or in a zoning hearing... and losing.

Well, you asked... Grin
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K7KB
Member

Posts: 618




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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2012, 10:43:51 PM »

I was not able to find a specific zoning regulation for the city of Santa Ana concerning amateur radio towers, but here is the zoning regulation for Orange County:

"Sec. 7-9-129.2. Antennas.
Radio and television antennas, not including dish antennas, may exceed the district building
height limit by ten (10) feet. However, FCC licensed amateur ham radio operators may have radio
towers seventy (70) feet in height measured from ground level.
A higher height limit for all antennas
may be provided by a use permit approved by the Zoning Administrator per section 7-9-150."

As others pointed out, most Building and Planning people actually know very little about what's in their own zoning code or building regulations. They are just the worker bees to do the paperwork. So it's always best to do a little digging on your own to get the truth.

John K7KB



I think I found your Zoning code that they were referring to with the 35 foot limitation:

Sec. 33-242. - Visual impact guidelines.

(b) An antenna array shall be installed as a shared use on an existing or replacement pole and shall not extend over seven (7) feet beyond the top of the pole. However no telecommunication facility located within one hundred forty (140) feet of a residential property shall exceed thirty-five (35) feet in height. Additionally, no telecommunication facility shall exceed sixty (60) feet in height from the ground level as measured from the nearest street curb. "

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the city of Santa Ana made any provisions or exclusions for Amateur towers as did Orange county. However, you could go to your city building and planning with a copy of the Orange County code and see what they say. There is always a chance they might go with it Smiley

John K7KB
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20666




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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2012, 06:03:46 PM »

I saw that section also and deemed amateur radio is not a "telecommunications facility," because technically, we are not.  A telecommunications facility is normally defined as a commercial enterprise which could include cellular system sites but not private hobby sites.

I think the "city" officials are misinterpreting their own code, which is very, very common...I've run into this dozens of times.

Contact WA6TWF and other hams with big towers in Santa Ana and see what they say...probably a better resource than asking the building and safety folks, who likely really don't know and can't be bothered doing any research.

I was part of "hearings" regarding ham towers four times, in NJ, MA, FL and here in CA and every single time there was a hearing of the zoning board and a ham showed up with a lawyer, the ham won.  Every time.  I remember when Mike WA2ZSB had his zoning board hearing in W. Orange, NJ -- they tried to restrict him to 35' or something -- his attorney made mincemeat out of the entire board and they ended up changing the code to 100' for amateur radio towers.  It was hilarious, and we all cheered.
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K7KB
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Posts: 618




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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2012, 12:04:31 AM »

Steve: I know what your saying. The problem is that most Building and Planning people don't know enough about Telecommunications facilities, Wireless Communications Facilities, and Amateur Radio to be able to distinguish between them unless they have something specifically in writing. To them, it's all the same and it's usually up to the Amateur or their lawyers to educate them before they will change their stance on a zoning issue. I had to fight this battle myself when I applied for my permit.

John K7KB
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WA8FOZ
Member

Posts: 194




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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2012, 06:30:55 PM »

Quote
What would I do?
I'd contact the local Volunteer Counsel and make sure that my installation was, legally speaking, air tight. 
Cheaper to do it RIGHT the first time, than to try and pull a fast one, get caught, and have to fight in court or in a zoning hearing... and losing.
Well, you asked... Grin

I agree. Here's how it is, as I see it: you need to get as clear as possible an estimate of what are your chances of winning or losing. Next you need to find out what the consequences of losing are: fines, legal fees, cost of take-down, whatever. Then you need to decide how much you afford to lose. You really can't do this without legal counsel.

You may decide to try a hex-beam on a roof tower...to do so may produce the highest reward-to-hassle ratio. And it would be MUCH better than a dipole....

Good luck.
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