LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS IN ERECTING TOWERS AND ANTENNAS
Your local municipality or development may have established height and building standards governing the use of radio towers and antennas. Height restrictions are found in zoning ordinances and private deed restrictions. Building standards may be found in local building codes. Complying with these requirements is usually easy and' will help to provide many years of safe and trouble free operation of your station.
Zoning ordinances, building codes and private deed restrictions are complex legal documents. If you question whether they apply to you, consult a local attorney. Five minutes spent In advance can save many hours later.
Zoning ordinances, building codes and deed restrictions are local. If you move from city to city these restrictions may change.
Zoning ordinances are concerned with the type of buildings or other structures you can erect in your neighborhood. In terms of amateur radio or CB towers and antennas, zoning laws will tell you if your property is zoned for such towers and antennas and, if so, what height limitations, if any, are involved.
Building codes are concerned with the safety of buildings or other structures permitted by local zoning ordinances. Building codes will tell you where on your property you can put the tower and antenna and the type of base and support (such as guy wires) you will need.
Both zoning and building codes are usually administered by the same governmental agency, often known as the Department of Building and Safety or the Zoning Board.
The Personal Communications Foundation believes that the following steps will help make sure you have a safe and legal installation:
I. Check with the local governmental agency. Ask whether your home is zoned for an amateur radio or citizens band tower and antenna.
2. Look at the actual zoning ordinances. Pay special attention to the definitions. Many zoning ordinances distinguish between "buildings" and "structures". Others distinguish between towers physically attached to the house, either by guy wires or mounting and towers that are not attached.
5. See if a building permit is required. If so, be sure to get one. They are usually quite inexpensive, often less than one percent of the cost of the tower. As part of the building permit, a local inspector will check and make sure that the base, guy wires, etc., meet local safety requirements. Modern commercially made towers are extremely safe and have a large safety margin, but only If you install them according to the directions. Paying $10.00 to $25.00 for an expert to inspect the foundation and finished installation is the cheapest insurance you can possibly buy. If a permit is required and not obtained, your homeowners insurance may not insure the tower and you have given neighbors, who might object, ammunition to require you to take the tower down.
4. In a limited number of cases you may need either a zoning variance or a conditional use permit to erect a tower higher than the local zoning board requirements. If so, it is far easier to apply In advance than to put up the tower and apply later. Most local governments are quite cooperative if you apply In advance and follow their rules. Variance provisions are used to provide flexibility from dimensional regulations such as setback or height restrictions. Conditional use permits are used where towers or antennas are not otherwise allowed. A public hearing is usually required before such permits are issued.
5. In addition to local ordinances, real estate developers or homeowners' associations may impose their own requirements in a subdivision. These requirements are usually known as deed restrictions or Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&R).
If you are thinking of moving into a new area, ask for a copy of the deed restrictions in advance of signing an offer to purchase the property. If you already own a home, a local realtor, title insurance company or lawyer can obtain copies of the deed restrictions, if any, for you. Don't take the word of the real estate salesman who may be wrong!
If there are no deed restrictions, you need only be concerned with local zoning and building codes. If there are deed restrictions, read them carefully. Look at the definitions. See if there are any restrictions on outside antennas or on the height of buildings or other structures or if a local architectural control committee must pass on any additions or changes to your property.
Deed restrictions are legal documents. A local lawyer familiar with real estate law can read the restrictions in only a few minutes and advise you. Even If the deed restrictions prohibit or restrict the size of towers and antennas, they may be unenforceable if many of your neighbors have erected such towers and antennas and no objections have been raised.
If you follow these simple rules, you should not encounter any problems or unpleasant surprises. Happy communications.
This information has been reprinted by ROHN, with permission from the.
PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS FOUNDATION
10960 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1504
Los Angeles, California 90024
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