Local Regulation of Amateur Antennas


I am an ARRL Volunteer Counsel. As such, I'm always willing to give a free initial consultation to members who have questions about Ham-Radio related legal matters. More often than not, this involves antenna placement, but it could also include other concerns such as RFI issues. I'm in Minnesota, and can really only give legal advice regarding Minnesota law. If you're in another area, you can search for an ARRL VC at this link.

If you want general information about antenna regulation and zoning issues, here are some resources you might find helpful.

The ARRL has an introductory page regarding Antenna Regulation and Zoning. The QST article linked on that page provides a good starting point. The page regarding PRB-1 will also prove very useful. PRB-1 is an FCC policy document which has been incorporated into the FCC rules. This FCC policy provides limited federal preemption of state antenna laws. Under this policy, state and local governments are required to reasonably accommodate amateur operations, although they may still have reasonable height, safety, and aesthetic regulations. Obviously, this isn't very black and white, but it can provide a powerful tool for contesting unreasonable local antenna regulations.

Another excellent resource is the website of fellow VC Fred Hoppengarten, K1VR, http://antennazoning.com/. In particular, his legal library page provides an enormous amount of resources that will be useful to you or, should the need arise, your attorney.

The single best resource, however, is Fred's book, Antenna Zoning for the Radio Amateur. The best time to read this book is before you put up your new tower. By following the advice contained in this book, you will potentially save yourself thousands of dollars. But if you are currently embroiled in a dispute, this book is a must. Chances are, your family attorney is not familiar with antenna zoning, and certainly doesn't know anything about PRB-1. It is worth reading this book before you call your attorney, since you will be able to intelligently discuss the issue with your attorney and help educate him or her. Your lawyer will probably want to borrow the book, since it will save him or her hours of research.

This book is available at the ARRL website. The cost is about $50, which you might consider expensive for even a large book. However, if you do become involved in a legal dispute (or better yet, avoid the dispute in the first place), this book will save you thousands of dollars in legal fees. As a VC, I'm happy to provide a free initial consultation. But I take such requests much more seriously if my potential client tells me that he or she has made the minimal investment of buying this book and reading it.

The book on the ARRL website is the second edition, published in 2011. Used copies are often available at Amazon through this link, often at a much lower cost. However, most of the used copies appear to be the the first edition, which was published in 2001. These older copies will still be useful to educate yourself about the general issues you will encounter. The general law hasn't changed much since 2001. However, the 2011 edition will be up-to-date with the most current court rulings. Therefore, if you anticipate that there will be problems with your antenna, you should buy the current edition directly from ARRL. But as long as you understand the limitations, the 2001 edition will still be useful.

Currently, the 2011 edition is not available on Amazon, and you'll need to but it from the ARRL website.

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Copyright 2013, Richard P. Clem. Attorney Richard P. Clem is responsible for the content of this page.

Richard P. Clem, Attorney
PO Box 14957
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: 612-378-7751
e-mail: clem.law@usa.net
Minnesota Attorney Registration Number 0192648


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