Tom’s statement on the Yahoo Group
Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:40 pm
"Jim Poston" <VCHemail@example.com>
Tom Taormina has sent me the
following set of answers to frequently asked questions, and asked to disseminate
it here. He also said that the county staff report issued by Austin Osborne on
2/18 is being revised, so if you're interested, you need to make sure you get
the most recent information from the county.
Jim Poston, Listowner
(Printable version available at:
FAQ´s re Amateur Radio Antenna Project
370 Panamint Road, Highland Ranches
Q - What are the towers for?
A - They are used by homeowners Tom and Midge Taormina for two-way communications with ham radio operators throughout the county, and around the world.
Q - What is ham radio?
A - It is a hobby where individuals are tested and licensed by the FCC to transmit radio signals on designated frequency bands. Most communications breakthroughs have been the result of ham radio experimentation.
Q - Why are they so tall?
A - Different frequencies require different heights for antennas to radiate efficiently. Most hams who live in subdivisions significantly compromise performance to build antennas appropriate to a suburban neighborhood.
Q - Aren’t they a hazard to
airplanes and CareFlight?
A - No. This installation will be totally compliant with all FAA regulations. CareFlight has landed within half a mile of the towers on several occasions.
Q - Will these antennas be lighted,
or have hazard painting?
A - No. To blend in, the towers will be dull gray, with no lighting or hazard painting.
Q - Why are there so many?
A - Antennas for different frequencies perform more efficiently when they are on separate supports. Most hams who live in restricted neighborhoods make compromises. They may not operate certain frequencies for which they are licensed, or they may suffer materially less effective communications.
Q - Do the CC&R’s permit these
A - There are no prohibitions for ham radio towers in the CC&R´s. The HRPOA filed a letter with the Storey County Building Department confirming that these towers do not violate their CC&Rs.
Q - Does the County Codes permit these towers?
A - In 1996, before the Taorminas purchased their house, the Storey County Building Department informed them that there were no height restrictions in the Storey County Codes. In 1999, the Code was changed to include a maximum fixed height of 45’ above grade for such structures.
Q - Shouldn’t they be
A - The Code provides for grandfathering of existing structures, but not for structures built after the ordinance went into effect. The Taorminas were not aware the Code had changed until 2008.
Q - Didn’t they have to get
building permits for the towers?
A - From 1996 to 2008, The Taorminas were repeatedly told by the Storey County Building Department that they did not require building permits for ham radio towers. When two new structures of 120’ and 195’ were planned for erection in 2008, the Building Department asked them to apply for a building permit. It was granted. Inspections approved the base and guy anchors.
Q - What is the problem if they had
A - Some neighbors complained to the Building Department and County Officials. Under direction of former DDA Laura Grant, the Building Department issued a Stop-Work-Order on the new towers, and effectively made the order retroactive to 1997.
Q - How can the County change their
minds after issuing a building permit and approving the concrete foundations?
A - In a series of letters back and forth between Taorminas’ attorneys and the DDA, there was no common ground on the issues of Federal Laws and Nevada Statutes that deal directly with how ham radio towers must be treated by Storey County.
Q - Why did they not just file for
a Special Use Permit at that time?
A - In the various letters from the County, they were sometimes told that they needed a Variance, and other times told that they needed a Special Use Permit. There were conflicting directions as to what was nonconforming. The Federal Court has now determined what is required.
Q - What happened next?
A - The Taorminas filed a civil action in Federal Court to require the County to comply with Federal and Nevada law which preclude setting firm, fixed heights. They argued that the County ordinance had a firm, fixed maximum height of 45’. Requiring two different rulings, the Judge finally established that a Special Use Permit may be issued to get around the maximum height problem. The Court specified that the correct procedure was to file a Special Use Permit under one (only one) specific section of the County Code. After the Judge´s last ruling that spelled out the steps to be followed, the Taorminas then filed a SUP application for the existing structures above 45’ and for the two structures that were stopped in July 2008.
Q -What issues are before the
A - The SUP asks for permission to finish the two towers formerly permitted, and to legalize the four existing towers over 45’.
Q - What factors will influence the
A - The Federal Judge ruled that only Section 17.62.010 is applicable. It reads:
"Certain uses may be permitted by the board of county commissioners in zones in which they are not permitted by this title where such uses are deemed essential or desirable for the public convenience or welfare."
Q - What determines "essential or desirable?"
A - In his draft Report of 2/18/11 for the Planning Commission, Senior Planner Osborne writes:
"[A] ccess to the amateur radio communication system by key staff may prove to be beneficial and desirable for the public convenience and welfare during times of Emergency Operations Command and extended power or emergency communication outages."
He set forth conditions under which
the Building Department recommends the grant of an SUP, with Condition # 8:
"In accordance with determining
that the Amateur Radio facility is used partly for the convenience and
necessity of the local jurisdiction and community, the Permit Holder shall
coordinate with the Storey County Emergency Management Departments to develop a
binding agreement [to] enable the Amateur Radio facility and/or the operator
(Permit Holder) to be utilized by the County during times of Emergency
Operations Command and extended power and communication outages."
Q - Is this project allowable under the County´s Master Plan?
A - In Section VII of his report, Senior Planner Osborne answered: "The proposal appears to comply with The Storey County Master Plan."
Q - What about the visual impact on
A - "Staff recommends, as demonstrated in the list of conditions for this special use permit, that a durable coating is applied to the additional towers that visually resembles the non-reflective (dull) gray finish that is seen on the existing structures."
Q - Does the Building Department
recommend approval of the SUP?
A - Yes. Section XI deals with the conditions of the recommendation.
February 22, 2011