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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB018 (1998)

ARLB018 Virginia hams press governor to sign antenna bill

ARRL Bulletin 18  ARLB018
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  March 20, 1998
To all radio amateurs

ARLB018 Virginia hams press governor to sign antenna bill

The full-court press is on in Virginia, where hams are urging Gov
Jim Gilmore to sign into law a bill that limits local regulation of
Amateur Radio antennas.  In the face of fierce opposition from the
Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties,
Senate Bill 480, ''Placement of Amateur Radio Antennas,'' has passed
both houses of the Virginia General Assembly.  But that victory did
not come without compromises.

For all areas of the state, the bill incorporates the essence of the
limited federal pre-emption known as PRB-1 into the Commonwealth's
statutes.  It requires local ordinances involving the placement,
screening, or height of antennas to impose the ''minimum regulation
necessary to accomplish the locality's legitimate purpose.''  The
original bill would have prohibited all localities from restricting
antenna height to less than 200 feet above ground level ''unless an
Amateur Radio antenna clearly represents an unreasonable risk to
human health or life.''  The version ultimately approved by the
General Assembly keeps the 200 feet regulatory minimum but contains
provisions for a lower height restriction--75 feet--in more densely
populated communities.

The new law would require ''reasonable and customary engineering
practices'' be followed in erecting towers.  Municipalities would
still be able to set ''reasonable requirements'' on screening,
setback, placement, and health and safety requirements.

The measure, Senate Bill 480 (SB 480) was introduced January 26 by
State Sen John Edwards of Roanoke.  At the time, many observers gave
it little chance of success.  Bill supporters say they had
assurances that Gilmore would sign the original bill, but they're
not taking any chances now that the bill has drawn fire from
powerful lobby groups.

Virginia Section Emergency Coordinator Frank Mackey, K4EC, was
elated at the outcome of the legislative effort.  He has credited
Bob Ham, KK4IY, of Vinton, ''for initiating and spearheading this
Herculean effort.''  Ham, the bill's aptly named and most prominent
booster, has been using ham radio and the Internet to apprise the
Old Dominion's amateur population of the bill's progress.  Ham
recently circulated the Governor's office telephone number
(804-786-2211), fax number (804-371-6351) and address (State
Capitol, Richmond, VA 23219) as part of an effort to keep up the
pressure until Gilmore's signature is on the dotted line.  Ham also
personally wrote Gilmore this week to plead for his signature on the


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