I applaud your efforts as a law abiding citizen. I hope that you are not
planning on doing any operating for the next few years! If you are going
to attempt to "educate" your local zoning boards and city commissioners,
please realize that most of them do not have your best interest in mind!
They have their own best interests in mind! You will be tied up with
litigation that will break you! Why am I such a cynic, you ask? Been
There, Done That!
I feel I can say these things because I have gone down the road that
you're looking to travel! I thought that I had it made here, and wanted
to do the "right" thing and be above board and legal, get my neighbor's
approvals, etc, etc. What I found was the same ulterior motives that I
have seen in more troubled municipalities.
Here's some background. My wife and I searched for two full years to try
and find a home with more than the usual postage stamp sized lot, so I
could put up a small tower. My plans were for a light duty Rohn BX-64,
which I had in the garage of the present home at the time for 5 years! I
had a typical 60 x 120 lot in a crowded sub and we decided that the next
house we buy, we would get enough land to put the tower up. The house we
finally found was on 3 acres, the house was only 5 years old, we had
plenty of space and was very happy to find that there was no CC&Rs to
worry about (a question I always asked)! There was also no mandatory
homeowner's assn! Great! The original developer of the sub was a ham
back in the 50s, so he agreed, that this would be a great spot and
encouraged me to continue! I had plenty of woods behind the house, with
most of the trees in the high ground about 30' tall. My plans were to
put the tower 300' behind the house to keep the asthetics of our dream
home intact and to keep much of the RF away from the house.
I investigated more and started to talk to other hams in the community.
A ham that lived 5 miles away from me had a PAIR of 135' towers in his
back yard and he had a variance and permit for them. I thought I had it
made! There were at least a handful more hams that had towers and
permits! They all said that it shouldn't be a problem! Great, I said!
I then talked to all my neighbors. Now with 3 acre lots, even going
300-500' out didn't put me in touch with more than a handful of people.
Luckily, my neighbors had no problem with my hobby, my tower or my site
plan; which I was submitting to the Bldg Dept and the zoning board of
appeals. There is a 35' height restriction, but it didn't seem to deter
My mistake #1. I contacted the VOLUNTARY homeowner's assn to give them
the courtesy of knowledge. I new full well that this assn had no real
legal juice. If anybody didn't agree with the assn, too bad! Well, the
pres said she didn't have any problem with my hobby or my antennas,
but she would oppose any and all variances in the sub, because "it would
set a dangerous precedent"! Her (and the BoD's) attitude was that once
any variance was granted, then all variances would be granted in the
Mistake #2. I applied for the variance anyway, thinking that if all
those other hams had them, I should be a shoe in! This also lent
credibility to the zoning board. Of course, my feeling now is that they
don't have any say in what we hams do, cuz of PRB-1. Too bad this is not
a perfect world!
Mistake #3. I went into the zba meeting ALONE! This was a gross error
in judgment! Just because all the Bldg Inspectors and the secretaries
and the other hams and the 2 attorneys I consulted said that everything
looked good for me, I should have taken the big gun engineers and
attorneys in there with me (assuming going before the zba was deemed
The UNOFFICIAL homeowner's assn showed up en masse! They called all
their tea time friends from all over the sub. Now remember, all my
neighbors signed my affidavit saying they had no problem with my plans.
Neighbors from 1/2 to 3/4 miles away came to this meeting to protest this
ugly, dangerous thing! After satisfying ALL questions of safety, RFI,
etc. The only thing they could go on was the asthetics. The only
problem was, NOBODY, not one single member of the zba came out to look at
the site in person like they told me they were going to do! So, even
though my tower was going to be 64' tall, surrounded by 30'-80' trees on
all sides , will sit 300' behind the house, which puts it 400' from the
road...I WAS REFUSED THE VARIANCE!!
I was going to sue the township, all the board members and anybody else I
drag into the fight! I was pissed! Finally, after my attorney (who is a
VERY well known plaintiff's attorney here in the Detroit area), told me
to take the path of least resistance and save my $25K-30K! I was shocked
at first! I was ready to take this to the Supremem Court! Good judgment
prevailed, and I applied for my 35' permit, which I got without any
trouble. The sympathetic inspector told me: "WOW, that huge concrete
footing can support a MUCH larger tower than the 35' one you are
installing!" He also said that after he sees the footing, the grounding
system, and the tower at less than 35' with no antennas or feedlines; he
would have NO OTHER reason to come back, especially if none of the
neighbors complained (hint-hint, nod-nod, wink-wink)! Trees grow every
year, etc, etc. I'm not sure how far down the road he was when a couple
of extra sections mysteriously dissappeared from the ground...hhmmm!
Now the TA-33 rests at 50" and the VHF/UHF yagi is at 57'. I went to the
annual meeting of the homeowner's assn not quite a year later (so I knew
what they were up to!), and was thanked for compromising on my plans for
the tower! I got a formal apology from the most vocal opponent at the
zba, as well as a formal welcome to the sub! I had other neighbors come
up to me and ask: "What tower?"!!!
Hopefully, the zba and the assn have moved on to other issues and have
forgotten about me and my tower! BTW, I water and fertilize my tower
What will I do, if the township decides to mess with me? Well, it will
be their money that will be paying for the litigation against me. PRB-1
is easier to enforce with the township coming after a ham that has the OK
of his neighbors and is active with many different public service
organizations, like RACES/ARES, Skywarn, SATERN, MARS, etc. Hopefully,
it will not come to that!
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