Radio tower request pits Kettering man against neighbors

The Board of Zoning Appeals last year denied a resident’s request to construct a 50-foot radio tower in his backyard. A public hearing was held by city council on Tuesday to hear his appeal regarding the denial, but no decision was reached.

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The Board of Zoning Appeals last year denied a resident’s request to construct a 50-foot radio tower in his backyard. A public hearing was held by city council on Tuesday to hear his appeal regarding the denial, but no decision was reached.

A Kettering man who wants to build a 50-foot radio tower in his backyard will have to wait to learn the fate of his appeal regarding a city ruling.

Wynn Rollert, 77, had requested approval to be granted a variance on his property in the 4800 block of Mad River Road in order to install the tower.

The Board of Zoning Appeals previously denied his request.

City Council conducted a public hearing on Tuesday regarding his appeal of the denial. Council delayed a ruling on the appeal, but the hearing focused on what the laws are regarding the request and the feelings of those in the neighborhood who are not in favor of the tower being built.

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

Kettering’s Zoning Code allows for amateur radio towers to be 25 feet without a variance, so that is why Rollert wants approval for the extra 25 feet.

In December, the Board of Zoning Appeal voted 3-1 to deny the request without comment. The decision went against a report from Zoning Administrator Run Hundt, who indicated that the request should be approved.

He reiterated the facts of the case Monday in front of council.

“We had a public hearing on Nov. 12, 2018, and at that hearing there was testimony by the applicant and by neighbors,” Hundt said. “And a petition submitted by neighbors opposing the request. At that time there was some concern about what the appearance of what this tower would be.”

Several pictures were eventually submitted of what some towers looked like in the Dayton area, and neighbors added testimony at a subsequent hearing voicing opposition to the variance being approved.

“I will say that the staff report for this project was supportive of the 25-foot variance,” Hundt said. “We did so based on our understanding of what the law is and the standards for variances. However, the board is the body that decides this case, and they had a very thorough motion for disapproval for this request.”

Rollert testified Tuesday night and was represented by attorney Barry Mancz at the hearing.

Mancz told council that the evidence substantiates that the city’s zoning code along with FCC and State of Ohio regulations state that the reasonable accommodation Rollert is seeking is lawful and the Board of Zoning Appeal erred in its ruling.

“They made a mistake,” he said, noting Hundt’s report which stated, “We cannot prohibit based on standards of people putting up a tower.”

Rollert has been a HAM operator and amateur radio enthusiast since 1952. 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.

Several residents spoke out Tuesday voicing concerns about how the tower would look in their Mad River Road neighborhood because it is a historic street with well-manicured lawns and a tree-lined landscape.

Mancz asked Sue Choate about her comments to the zoning appeals board in which she praised HAM operators and noted working with them 18 years when she was with the Red Cross.

She said that she did feel that way, but still vehemently opposed the tower. “My husband and I moved into the neighborhood to make a house into a home and that is what we’ve done,” she said. “We feel this would be an eyesore and would lower property values.”

Vice-Mayor Bill Lauter said that council would not rule on the appeal Tuesday, but would make a determination at a later date.

MORE: Kettering resident’s radio tower request to be heard on appeal

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