In today's mail (3 PM) I got another notice from the City of Concord.
It was the agenda for a planning commission "study session" to be held tonight
Talk about short notice.
My antenna permit was item #6.
The notice said that "study" sessions are where the staff briefs the
commission on what they are going to get in the public hearing the following
week. It's open to the public, but testimony is not permitted unless asked
for by the Chairman of the commission.
Naturally, I hit the shower, put on my best power tie and attended.
When my turn came up the staff person I had been working with said "I don't
know anything about antenna towers, but I see Mr. Spinosa is here, so I'm
inviting him to the table to speak." (This meeting is held in a conference
room setting with a big table).
Before I spoke, the city attorney had some advice for the commissioners.
To paraphrase, he said:
1) These amateur radio operators are federally regulated, as such any
complaints you hear about interference issues are under federal jurisdiction.
You cannot base your decision on complaints of possible interference.
2) The other thing you might hear is aesthetic issues. It's an eyesore, or it
will decrease the value of my property. These are just opinions, they must be
weighted against factual information given by the protester.
3) As a commission we can regulate this guy's height and address aesthetic
issues. But under Federal regulation we cannot deny him access to the
airwaves, hence we cannot flat out deny his antenna structure.
Sitting at the table, my thoughts at this point were: "Not bad for a city
Commissioners wanted to know why I want to put this big antenna in my yard.
I turned my answer into a follow-up on what the attorney said. I spoke about
aesthetics and most importantly, the steps I have taken to mitigate or
minimize visual impact.
Commissioners wanted to know if I knew of any neighbors who were violently
opposed to my installation.
I commented that since the notice of public hearing arrived, there had been
some phone calls. I said that if neighbors show up, they will probably be
opposed to the installation on aesthetic grounds, in which case, my response
will be just what I've told you: Here are the steps I've taken to minimize
There were a few more pretty intelligent questions regarding amateur radio in
general and "reasonable accommodation". One commissioner even had the
intelligence to ask about wind-loading and safety. The Chairman wanted to
know if this was all just a hobby. Naturally, I responded that we hams are
reluctant to call what we do "just a hobby". Our Federally granted privileges
hinge on public service. It was the perfect lead in to a bit about emergency
communications. I heard myself saying things like; "We've proven ourselves
time and again" and "so much so that the Federal government through the
Congress and the FCC have a vested interest in permitting us to erect
efficient antenna structures... This is the impetus underlying what the city
attorney told you earlier."
All and all, I was pretty impressed.
This was very low key. I think I gave them a pretty good understanding of who
I am and what I want to do. Of course, I was very professional etc.
Turns out I'm not half bad at public speaking.
Perhaps the most interesting question (at least the one that blind sided me)
was that of wind noise. "Mr. Spinosa, this tower with these antennas on it...
Will it make noise in the wind, like chimes?"
Hell if I know! (I didn't really say that).
I did say that I've never heard of that before and that there is nothing
referenced in the specifications from the tower manufacturer, or the antenna
manufacturers, that would lead me to believe any noise will be generated by
the wind. As far as I know, the tower will be completely silent.
Thought I had heard everything.
Now, on to the public hearing next week.
I'm feeling kind of good about this at the moment, but if I can find a lawyer
before next week I will feel MUCH better. I have a lead on this, and will be
making a few phone calls tomorrow.
Thank you all for the overwhelming support I've received the past few days.
Hams to the rescue!
(Please excuse my habit of making these postings rather long. I'm just as bad
in person. I don't work repeaters 'cause I time them out!)
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