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Kettering resident’s radio tower request upsets neighbors who say it would be eyesore

A Kettering resident wants to put up an amateur radio tower on property along Mad River Road and some residents who live on the road don’t want the tower built in their neighborhood.

More than 30 people who live in the neighborhood submitted a petition to the Kettering Board of Zoning Appeals Monday night at a hearing to discuss the issue.

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Wynn Rollert, 77, has requested approval to be granted a variance on his property in the 4800 block of Mad River Road in order to install a 50-foot tower in the rear of his yard. Kettering’s Zoning Code allows for amateur radio towers to be 25-feet without a variance, so that is why he wants approval for the extra 25-feet.

Rollert has been a ham operator and amateur radio enthusiast since 1952 he said Monday night. He said he would like to use commercial-grade equipment including the UHF/VHF frequency tower for two-to-three hours a day to communicate with other ham operators at remote sites especially during emergency situations.

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“In normal circumstances, when there are local emergencies or anything like that, it (radio tower operations) is used for communications between ham radio operators particularly technical types which I am one,” he said.

Several residents are concerned because they feel Mad River Road is an historic road, with well-manicured lawns, as well as a tree-lined landscape. They feel the tower would be an eyesore and presented the petition to the zoning board members on Monday.

Two of those residents, Ken Salmons and Sue Choate, voiced heir concerns over the proposed 50-foot tower in their neighborhood.

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Choate said she appreciates the work that ham operators like Rollert do and told the zoning appeals board, “18 years I spent with the Red Cross and we worked very closely with the hammers, and they do a fantastic job. With that said, most of us have been in the neighborhood for 30, 40, 50 and 60 years. We have spoken to 31 residents, who are in opposition (to the tower) and we would like to present that (petition) for your perusal.”

Salmons’ residence is located about 240 feet from the proposed tower and there are no trees to block the view.

“I’ve got a clear shot of where the antenna is going to be,” he said. “I’m extremely concerned about the aesthetics of it and I’m extremely concerned about if we allow one person to put in a tower that exceeds the variance requirements in our neighborhood then what is to stop the next person from doing it as well.”

Zoning Administrator Run Hundt said the essential issue of how the tower will look within the residential neighborhood is a subjective matter, and one that may likely be the focus of those opposing the variance request. But following the rules and guidelines likely will bind the city to honor Rollert’s request.

“Now, what this comes down to is that the zoning code establishes standards and those standards have to be looked at and that is what I attempted to do in my report,” he said. “I fully understood that most people were going to come here this evening and oppose something they don’t believe in in terms of what they need or they see. Cities have to look at it from the standpoint of what is a reasonable accommodation.”

He added that the FCC and the State of Ohio lay out what is a reasonable accommodation with this type of variance request.

“Basically, what that means is that we cannot prohibit based on standards of people putting up a tower. Now, we can create reasonable provisions. For example, one reasonable thing that we did add to our code, is a fall zone. Basically if the tower fell over from its base, it would fall on the single property where it is located,” Hundt explained. “If you have a 50-foot high tower, then you have to have a 60-foot distance and his proposed location is 65-feet from the nearest neighbor.”

The board decided not to vote on Rollert’s request on Monday, but granted a continuance in order to look at other similar 50-foot towers in the area to help review safety standards and aesthetics. Hundt said his report indicated to the board that the request should be approved.

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