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Towers and Building Permits

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Subject: Towers and Building Permits
From: (Fred Hopengarten)
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 1997 11:46:59 EST
Fred Hopengarten, K1VR
Six Willarch Road * Lincoln, MA 01773-5105 * 617/259-0088
e-mail: or

Big antennas, high in the sky, are better than small ones, low.

On Tue, 28 Jan 1997 22:44:23 -0500 (Leikhim, Joe)
>Is it unusual to require a building permit to construct an amateur 
>tower? I called my local building department and was told (verbally) 
>that none was needed. I drove over and saw the plans inspector and was 
>told again the same. I asked for written confirmation and was told to 
>put the request in writing and that the director would have to approve 
>the letter stating that no permit was required. 

>Joe Leikhim

K1VR:  In my experience (I've been involved in over fifty tower cases), a
building permit is usually required.  I must say, however, that I once
saw a town ordinance that had been crafted by hams and passed by Town
Meeting which specifically said that up to a certain height, no permit
was required.  If your town has such an ordinance, no letter is

My advice:  Why are you taking the word of a town employee?  A complete
copy of the town zoning code will only cost $5-20.  Read it cover to
cover.  Look for definitions such as "structure," "building," and
"antenna."  Read any section with the word "height" in it.  Find and
understand any "Dimensional Table" or "Table of Dimensions".  Be sure you
know what type of zone you are in.  (You may be in an agricultural zone,
an R-1, R-2, etc.).

Finally, you might want to ask a local ARRL Volunteer Counsel if he has
any experience with that town.

Now the question you should be asking is:  "If they tell me I don't need
a permit, why should I break my back to get one?"  Answer:  Without a
permit, should it suffer damage, your insurance company may decide not to
honor your coverage and pay for damage to your antennas and support
structure.  Also, without a permit, all hell could break loose at a later

Good luck! -- Fred K1VR

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