According to an application before the Telecommunications Review Board (TRB), an amateur “HAM” radio operator can erect two 84-foot towers to pursue his hobby and is exempt from local zoning regulations.

The application is not easy reading. It’s over 130 pages of technical information on radio frequencies exposures, wavelengths, tables and calculations, FCC references, court cases, and more. But this application is critical, as this decision will set precedent for future applications. The applicant states this application is a compromise; the next application, from him or another of the 24 HAM radio operators in town, may be for more towers and taller towers, anywhere in town.

So, picture this: two 84-foot towers, each has a 70-foot triangular lattice type steel structure, topped with a 14’ mast. Each tower will have several antennas on long booms, mounted at 70 feet and 84 feet. Each tower requires 6 guy wires to stabilize it.

For reference, the power pole at this location is about 34 feet above ground level, so these towers will be almost two and a half times the height! Visibility maps show the towers will be seen from a significant number of properties and local roads.

The applicant and his attorney cite special privileges granted to amateur operators from the Federal government (FCC). Their presentation strongly suggests that Shelburne must accommodate whatever the applicant wants (emphasize wants, not needs). The applicant identifies four purposes of the towers: public safety and emergency communications, international communications, experimentation, and training and education. And why does one ‘need’ two towers? With two, the applicant (sole user of the systems) can send and receive at the same time and eliminate the ‘wait time’ required to rotate the direction of an antenna if using just one tower.

All four purposes can be accomplished without erecting any tower. He can enjoy his hobby with other means available that won’t create an eyesore for his neighbors, commuters along Dorset/ Barstow/ Cheesefactory, or bikers and runners enjoying the rural landscape.

Shelburne residents have volunteered countless hours on Boards and Commissions thoughtfully crafting the town plan and ordinances to support our town vision. It’s disheartening when someone chooses to move into Shelburne and shows a total disregard for this work.

The Planning Commission /TRB meetings are currently on hold; once they resume, please attend. Your presence is important. We’ll keep you posted on the date.

Maureen O’Brien


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