On 03/22/08 09:47 am firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> Rule #1...YMMV
> I had the distinct displeasure of having back-to-back law suits in two
> different towns, both
> related to towers.
> Circa 1981. Bought a house "on top of the hill." Restrictions on the house
> said, "No antennas
> attached to the house." I had my attorney (sizable law firm) review things
> prior to buying. I
> was cleared. I put up a self-supporting tower 30 feet from the house.
> Neighbors sued, judge
> agreed stating that "on the house" and "near the house" were the same thing.
> So much for
> mandatory requirement that restrictions "must be construed narrowly." Judge
> went on to say
> that he wasn't ruling that I couldn't have a tower "somewhere," meaning that
> I would have to
> try spots 2, 3, 4 ...... until I found one that he liked (which would be
> never). I moved.
> Circa 1985. Took two full years of searching EVERY weekend of the year to
> find a good place.
> Was just land. Entire "neighborhood" was woods (just being built up).
> Reviewed everything with GIANT law firm (over 50 attorneys). Town actually
> permits towers
> up to 50 feet. Okay, close enough, especially after the last experience.
> I'll take it. Besides,
> the QTH is phenomenal to EU and JA.
> Build our house. Got to meet new neighbors as they moved in. Developed
> strong, personal
> relationship with neighbors. One time, due to dumb luck, both my wife and I
> broke our foot.
> Neighbors were great...took our garbage to the curb, cooked meals for us, did
> errands, etc.
> How cool is that?
> Two years later....
> Went to townhall, submitted plans, received building permit....no problem.
> Offered to be town
> radio officer. Lovely.
> Neighbor #1 get a bug up his butt, creates a stink, and sues me (note that
> all I had done so
> far was to get a permit. No construction, no hole, no nothing). Local and
> State newspapers
> get the story and "write it up." (now I've learned to never trust anything I
> read in the
> newspaper). Other neighbors join in the suit. I say to XYL, let's move.
> She sez, "You can run
> forever." We dig in our heels. 18 months of agony, flying in experts from
> all over th country,
> putting up with total BS from everything you could possibly imagine.
> Building permit is NEVER
> revoked, but town is now suing me. Go figure.
> After 18 months, I win. Cost in quality of life, immeasurable (huge). Cost
> in dollars, a full
> year's worth of salary before deductions and taxes. Satisfaction...not much.
> Looking back,
> I should have just moved ...much cheaper and less stress on Quality of Life.
> Is there a god?
> Neighbor who started it all goes bankrupt within 1 year, has to sell house.
> Wife leaves him.
> Neighbor #2 who joined in suffers huge stroke, completely disabled, family
> has to sell
> house to survive.
> Neighbor #3 business falls apart. Goes to work for his wife (travel agent)
> and moves away
> the following year.
> So...what is Rule #1? YMMV. Nothing matters...it's all a crap-shoot. No
> amount of legal
> research, neighbor prep, town prep, whatever can ever guarantee anything.
> Stuff happens.
> The important thing to do is contingency planning. Figure out how much time,
> effort, money
> you are willing to spend if things go bad and DON'T PUT IN MORE MONEY THAN
> THAT. It is a
> very slippery slope.
Before moving to this area (W. Michigan), I checked ordinances and asked
to see CC&Rs and/or HOA rules for every property that looked as though
it had possibilities. Holland Township allows antennas up to 70ft for TV
reception and for use by Federally licensed amateur radio operators (and
many other municipalities in the area have similar rules). No permit
required, no inspections.
Our Realtor (a family friend as buyer's agent) said I was being paranoid
in insisting on checking the HOA rules or CC&Rs for every property. He
said he could see a bunch of retired people in Florida with nothing
better to do making a fuss but not ordinary people who have to go to
work and deal with everyday matters. Nevertheless, the one property
concerning which I asked the HOA for an interpretation of their "woolly"
rules (pretty much: "We'll prohibit anything we don't like") said, "No
way!" to an antenna tower.
The CC&Rs for our current property are old, skimpy, misspelled, and
established no HOA. "Structures" other than the house itself are limited
to one shed of maximum specified size. The ARRL VC I consulted said that
he would interpret "structure" in the context as referring only to
buildings. (And if it does refer to other than buildings, then the
basketball hoops and flagpoles are also in violation.) There was already
an amateur radio antenna on a tower several houses away. There were
trailers and boats parked on various properties (including this one), in
violation of the rules as printed. (BTW, if I had not asked for the
CC&Rs ahead of time -- before making an offer -- I would not have seen
them until the closing.)
I "kept my head down" as the hole for the base was being dug. Then the
neighbors each side asked my wife what was going on. She told them, and
one responded, "Why bother, when you can talk anywhere in the world for
2 cents a minute?" The other said, "Oh, cool!" Nobody else has said a
word. One of the neighbors at the back was recruited by a mutual friend
to help carry the tower from the front yard where it was left when it
was delivered round to the base behind the house.
So here I am with my SteppIR at 70' in a subdivision new enough to have
underground utilities and old enough not to have a HOA. Someone has
calculated that this subdivision has more hams than any other in the
area (although only three of us have towers).
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