Introduced by Representatives Brennan of Colchester, Nitka of Ludlow and Trombley of Grand Isle
Subject: Municipal government; regulatory provisions; amateur radio antennas
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to prohibit municipalities from adopting ordinances, bylaws, and rules that do not comply with federal regulation of amateur radio service and antennas. The bill also proposes to require ordinances, bylaws, and rules that restrict the height of amateur radio antennas reasonably to accommodate amateur radio communications through minimal practicable regulation. The bill proposes a standard for reasonable accommodation of amateur radio antenna heights. The bill would limit the ability of any municipality to review or place any conditions on a proposed antenna or antenna support structure that meets the criteria defined by the bill.
AN ACT RELATING TO MUNICIPAL REGULATION OF AMATEUR RADIO ANTENNAS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. POLICY
The General Assembly finds that it is the policy of the state of Vermont that amateur radio use and amateur radio antennas and support structures protect and promote the public interest by providing important communications support to both government and the public during times of emergency when other communications infrastructure is disabled or overburdened and by presenting the public with an opportunity for public service, self-training, communications, and technical investigation.
Sec. 2. 24 V.S.A. § 2296 is added to read:
§ 2296. REGULATION OF AMATEUR RADIO
(a) As used in this section:
(1) “Amateur radio” means the use of amateur radio and amateur satellite radio frequencies and services by qualified and federally authorized persons of any age who are interested in radio technique without pecuniary interest.
(2) “Antenna” means an array of wires, tubing, or the like used for the transmission and reception of radio waves.
(3) “Antenna support structure” means a structure or framework that is designed to elevate an antenna above the ground for the purpose of increasing the effective communications range and reliability of an amateur radio station. Amateur radio antenna support structures are removable by design and therefore are a removable structure for assessment purposes.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision 2291(19) of this title, no municipality may adopt or enforce an ordinance, bylaw, or rule that does not comply with 47 C.F.R. § 97.15(b), or as that subsection may be subsequently amended.
(c) If a municipality adopts an ordinance, bylaw, or rule involving the placement, screening, or height of amateur radio antennas based on health, safety, or aesthetic considerations, the ordinance, bylaw, or rule shall:
(1) reasonably accommodate amateur radio communications; and
(2) represent the minimal practicable regulation to accomplish the articulated purpose of the municipality.
(d) Reasonable accommodation for amateur radio antenna heights shall be judged from the perspective of a particular applicant for a permit for an antenna structure, and minimum reasonable accommodation shall be presumed to be as follows:
(1) For lots or parcels smaller than one acre:
(A) Except as provided under subdivision (B) of this subdivision (1), no municipal ordinance, bylaw, or rule shall restrict the overall height of an amateur radio antenna and associated support structure to less than 75 feet above ground level nor restrict the number of support structures.
(B) In a duly designated design control or historic district, a municipal ordinance, bylaw, or rule may restrict antennas and associated support structures to overall heights less than 75 feet but must not prohibit amateur radio antennas and support structures, nor may it limit the overall height of the antennas and support structures to a height less than the highest permissible construction in any other location within the district.
(2) For lots or parcels one acre or larger, no municipal ordinance, bylaw, or rule shall restrict an amateur radio antenna height to less than that specified in 47 C.F.R. § 97.15(a) nor restrict the number of support structures.
(e) All antennas and support structures shall be located completely on the lot where they are installed unless permission from the owner of an abutting property is first obtained.
(f) Antennas and antenna support structures that comply with this statute are an ordinary accessory use and shall be granted a building permit upon application for that permit. Antennas and antenna support structures shall not be subject to any conditions, special review, or other processes that may be applied on an exception basis to other types of permit applications. In no event shall application or review fees for antenna support structures exceed the fees for residential projects of comparable cost charged to the applicant for the antenna support structure. Owners of amateur radio antennas and support structures constructed prior to the effective date of this section and constructed in compliance with local rules as then in effect are not required to obtain a permit merely as a result of subsequent changes in rules. Any antenna or antenna support structure lawful when erected may be repaired or replaced with comparable components without further permits from or undergoing further review by a municipality.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street