Cobb confident it could win suit over radio tower
by Jon Gillooly
October 23, 2012 01:21 AM | 5624 views | 41 41 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ritner Nesbitt who has been a ham radio operator for close to 50 years was cited by code enforcement for the 140 foot radio tower he installed at his home. <br> File photo
Ritner Nesbitt who has been a ham radio operator for close to 50 years was cited by code enforcement for the 140 foot radio tower he installed at his home.
File photo
slideshow
WEST COBB — Rob Hosack, director of Cobb’s community development agency, thinks the county would prevail if a west Cobb amateur radio operator sues to keep his 140-foot tower.

“Given that this is a very, very specialized area of the law, we just decided to get a recognized expert to kind of chime in,” Hosack said. “We’ve had three different hits now kind of get together and say ‘here’s our position,’ so if this ends up where I think it’s going to end up, I think we’re going to be in a good position.”

Amateur radio operator Ritner Nesbitt, a grandfather of 10 who lives down the road from Dominion Christian Schools, was cited after neighbors complained about his tower. He applied for a special land use permit, which the county’s Planning Commission unanimously recommended denying on Oct. 2.

Hosack said Nesbitt would be in the clear if his tower stopped at the county’s 70-foot height limit — “We would just wish him good luck and send him on his way” — but to have one higher than that requires a special land use permit.

Nesbitt, who has spent between $30,000 and $40,000 on the tower, said he’ll take the county to court before taking the tower down.

The county paid attorney Anthony LePore of CityScape Consultants, Inc. $500 to render an opinion on the matter. LePore concluded that federal regulations “would not preclude Cobb County from processing this application in accordance with its existing wireless communications regulations.”

County spokesman Robert Quigley said the county began using CityScape after it updated its telecom ordinance in Nov. 2010.

Commissioners were scheduled to vote on Nesbit’s request at their Oct. 16 meeting, but the matter was postponed until Nov. 20 to give the county’s staff time to review an Oct. 15 letter from Nesbitt’s attorney, Christopher Balch. In that letter, Balch takes issue with LePore’s opinion, writing that the tower is allowed under federal law.

Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee, just back from a trip to South Korea, said he needed to research the issue more before deciding which way to vote.

“Amateur radio operators are licensed at different levels to operate at different frequencies depending on their license ability,” Lee said. “They play a role in communications on a national level in the event of a catastrophic communications failure across the country, so I have to see if that plays into our decision-making as well.”

Nesbit said he moved to a five-acre wooded slope across the street from the Burnt Hickory Farms subdivision 20 years ago because it was the ideal spot to pursue his hobby. He built three radio towers on the slope behind his home in the 1990s: two that crank up to 35 feet and one that is 70 feet in height.

Then in 2008, his attorney writes, with band conditions continuing to deteriorate because of solar radiation, he decided to build a taller antenna tower. The fourth tower covers areas such as South Africa and toward Australia and New Zealand.
Comments
(41)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Channel Watch
|
November 02, 2012
Why does anyone need a 140 ft tower for their CB radio? Lost Mountain Skip Ranger 447 has only a 30 foot tower, and he is a recognized world wide skip master.
RoscoeDude
|
November 07, 2012
CB trolls abound, where is the hall monitor?

Children play with plug and play CB. CB'ers commonly break the laws and are of low IQ.

Amateur Radio Operators are licensed, Educated, and community minded.
WA0ZZG in Iowa
|
November 11, 2012
OK...Lets look at what it appears he is doing with such a tower. I have to go by the press photo. No other information has been provided. It looks like he is using this tower to stack a series of antennas into what is called an array. The antennas need to be precisely spaced and then act as a single antenna to beam his radio signal to a far location on the earth. Nearby exposure is minimal as most of the signal goes over your head. The height is needed for two reasons. 1. To provide enough tower space to build the array. 2. To keep the radio signal from hitting the ground and nearby people. Actually, for the distance traveled, the antenna is quite small.

Safety is not an issue as long as it was built using good engineering practice. Each part of the country has a different deffinition for good practice. For Iowa, the tower needs to be able to withstand a 100MPH wind while coated with two inches of ice. My county does allow towers of this height but requires an annual inspection by a certified engineer and a tower fall zone. Most midwest goverments followed FAA regulations which allow up to 200 feet unless near an airport. Larger cities will restrict this to around 100 feet but allow exceptions, mainly to cell phone companies.

Be very careful what you do here. It can have a impact on the area if a cell phone company wants to place a tower in the same area.
RoscoeDude
|
November 01, 2012
Student Pilot Mike, perhaps you haven't looked into this issue well enough but a tower must be of a minimum height to require a strobe light to alert low flying aircraft of the tower. As a matter of fact it is a violation of these same federal laws to place a light on any tower if it does not achieve this minimum height. That means that when I put a Christmas light display on my tower I am essentially breaking these laws because my tower is not of the required height. At one time I had some very tall towers but I have fallen into the time of life where I don't care to climb towers anymore, so I have very expensive tilt over towers that also telescope up and down.

I am assuming here that because you do not know the tower/height/strobe lights laws that you are a student pilot at best. You may correct me if you like, but I will simply be forced into believing that any real pilot would not know these very rudimentary flying rules and laws, nor would a professional pilot ever elude to the fact that he/she flies as low as 140' over a non landing zone or takeoff zone of an airport. Or do you regularly fly under the 140' height over houses and buildings? If I get your registration numbers on your rental airplane I will report you for flying so low as any pilot would know that flying at 140' is an absolute no no in the eyes of the FAA.

It never fails to amazes me when someone quotes laws when they are not in any way correct.

It is difficult to act like an eagle when you have to fly with buzzards!
RREARC
|
October 28, 2012
Amateur radio clubs expend thousands of volunteer hours promoting a positive image of ham radio to the public. This tower incident reverses and negates all that effort, and with a little respect for neighbors and local government regulatory authority, this incident could have been easily avoided. When will some hams learn they are part of the community they live in and don't live in a vacuum, insulated from the world around them? What a sad testimony for amateur radio. The infamous tower incident will long be associated with Cobb county hams.
20mSquelcher
|
November 06, 2012
@RREAC

BULL! Why don't you stop the righteous HAM politcal correctness positive image crap. You probably don't sign off with your call number half the time. The MDJ has done a good job bringing real issues to fore, but you would rather condone a neighbor complaining about a neighbor about his towers. Wake up, okay!
Pilot Mike
|
October 28, 2012
Towers of 140 feet are a definite hazard to aeronautical navigation. Does this tower have flashing lights? Is it painted red and white? Does it have an inspection certificate from the FAA? It is possible the FAA enforcement division might be interested in removing this tower?
Hambone*2
|
October 28, 2012
Not true, "Physics Doc".

Lightning is caused by dissimilar charge buildup on clouds relative to other clouds or earth. When potential difference is enough to break down the insulation of air, we have lightning.

A tower (or other tall structure) doesn't create lightning or draw lightning into an area. A tall structure merely provides a more attractive target for lightning that would otherwise hit elsewhere.

Watch reports on house fires. The majority of strikes directly on houses occur where in CC&R restricted areas with underground utilities, and a lack of tall trees. In such areas, houses become a more attractive target. This is because tall utility poles with wires are missing.

As for microwaves and RF energy, the only health hazard from RF energy is heating. This comes down to a certain allowable field intensity in a given volume of space for certain frequency ranges. The EM field has to be intense enough and absorption high enough to elevate temperature to the point of damage. This is not damage that accumulates slowly over hours, months, or years like ionizing radiation. The worry is, as you pointed out, "cooking".

A typical microwave uses hundreds of watts confined to a small volume of space, power density is extremely high. The frequency is around 2 GHz. This just comfortably below the frequency where maximum absorption occurs, so the field penetrates deep inside food or water. Frequency is still high enough that nearly all microwave energy is absorbed and causes heating.

Normal communications frequencies are much lower and have much less power density. Heating is a non-issue.

The real problem with his tower is he broke the law, and it looks bad. Both are reason enough he should just shut up and take it down. The FCC offers no preemption against a reasonable zoning law, and he is giving Hams a bad name.
RoscoeDude
|
October 27, 2012
Physics Doc, please quote your studied as I would certainly like to read them. I like to see the documentation rather than taking someones rather skewed opinion on the issue. The fact that lightening may or may not be attracted to a tower has little importance in t5his matter as if the tower is properly grounded it will not in any way cause a problem even to the tower owners home and equipment. Lightening hits the ground/earth all the time and with the modern methods of proper home and power grid construction rarely causes and major problem. So, Physics Doc, as I see it your argument is moot involving this issue.

Please do not call Amateur Radio or connect it in any way to CB. They are worlds apart and if you would like to learn the difference feel freer to attend any Amateur Radio club in your area and talk to the members, they will give you a vocal thrashing when you compare them the CB'ers. Or you can attend with an open mind and listen to the technology involved. You will find that in the upper levels of the graduated licensing structure that the licensees are very educated themselves. Commonly M.D. PHd, RN, Electrical engineering, degrees follow many of the members along with teachers, truck drivers and automobile technicians as well. I am sure you will find many as educated as yourself and higher!
RoscoeDude
|
October 27, 2012
Cobb Monitor I will post my Amateur Radio call sign when you post your street address!?

When the cell phones are inoperative during some major storm or similar communications interruption the very people that are opposing the towers will be knocking at Ritner Nesbitt's door when they want to get info on family or send a family member a message that they are alive and well.

I had a large generator in my side yard and the neighbors hated it, they tried to force the issue by having a city council member introduce code to stop such items in a visible yard. Yet whom do you think came over with extension cord in hand during an extended power outage? Thats correct, these same neighbors that had asked the city council to ban such items came begging for just a little electricity to power the refrigerator/freezer so they would not loose all the expensive food frozen/refrigerated and otherwise that they had purchased on sale to save money. Perhaps they should have invested in a generator of their own. I capitulated and allowed a few neighbors to hook up, but some were either to far away or would be to high a drain on my available power output. Now, I bought the generator to supply my home with all the extras like heating and cooling but I allowed others to use my power that I could not heat/cool, ETC. all I could do was supply my ref/freezer. It was interesting that not only did the neighbors ever offer up a few dollars to cover the cost of fuel but one that had been connected continued his effort to remove my generator for my yard. BTW, Lowe's, Home Depot, ETC were sold out of generators long before these very sale/bargain minded neighbors decided to buy a generator and because they procrastinated so long placed their frozen food bargains in jeopardy.
Hambone*2
|
October 26, 2012
First, his towers are not a air navigation hazard or a health hazard.

Towers do not attract lightning. Towers actually reduce chances of lightning damage to neighbors.

If you look carefully at house fires in Atlanta after storms, nearly all house fires are in neighborhoods without tall power poles or towers, or other tall protective objects. Houses become lightning targets protecting shorter structures.

The only legitimate complaints, if a tower cannot fall on someone else's property, is how the tower looks and what zoning allows.

The person with this tall tower is dead wrong. He should have applied for a variance and permit before building the tower, or moved to a county that had codes allowing tall tower.

I lived in an area with zoning identical to Cobb's. I decided I wanted a tall, so I moved to a county without restrictions. I now have several towers well over 100 feet.

Before I chose a county to live in, and long before I installed my tower, I read local zoning codes. The county I live in only restricts towers above 200 feet if they can fall on neighboring property, or if they are commercial use. Anyone can have a tower any height they want in this county, provided it is not for commercial use and it cannot fall onto other property.

The fellow with the tower in Cobb is just as wrong as the people claiming the tower is a hazard. He should have followed the law, or moved to a place where tall towers are allowed. He gives Ham radio a bad name by doing something wrong and then declaring he is above a reasonable law.
Physics Doc
|
October 27, 2012
Mr Hambone*2, Your assertions do not measure up with scientific laws of physics. Towers of this height DO certainly attract lightning. Studies prove that lightning strikes the tallest structure in an area under umbrella effect. The law of geophysics confirms the lightning attraction to CB radio towers like this. Low flying aircraft like helicopters are at particular risk from this tower. The health hazard comes from the field effect of radio frequency energy patterns, which is similar to someone being inside a microwave oven. What is the source of your information on Atlanta lightning statistics, because they are not accurate?
RoscoeDude
|
November 11, 2012
K4332 continually knocks Amateur Radio and doesn't know how to use caps. This so called physics Doc says the laws of physics but when I ask him to quote examples he drifts off to his blather about the laws of physics. No evidence there.

K4332 wants to play with his cb radios like he had a real license, cb isn't a real radio service, cb is plug and play for the kids as few adults use it, those that do are often challenged in some way or another. Computers are used in conjunction with Amateur Radio, often they are connected as an adjunct to the radio, there are even Amateur Radios that are on a card placed into a computer. This guy is some kind of computer guru then he shouldn't need to carve up another form of communications, as I feel that anything that allows people to talk is a good thing. I bet he had never talked to King Hussein of Jordan on his cell phone, many hams have chatted with the good king before his passing.

I believe that one person here has several nicknames and is nothing more than a troll. Am I correct K4332 and Physics Doc?

MyEye
|
October 26, 2012
One need only to the handling of the Waleed “Lee” Jaraysi affair(unfinished building)to recall how government can impose heavy handedness to have what it believes to be an eyesore removed. Nesbitt's towers are a ecreative work of art. With a backdrop of an October sunset, the silhouette of Nesbitt's expression exudes a complex of opposing conflicts: man against nature and that of man against man. this is art that must be preserved and is quite breathtaking.
K4332
|
October 26, 2012
The world wide web of internet and cell phones has rendered amateur radio obsolete. Ham radio is a legacy hobby, something from the 18th century, when Marconi first discovered radio waves. Morse code and radio tubes are something we find in museums. I suggest Mr Nesbitt purchase a quality computer and chat with people all over the world. His adversarial position in wanting to have a 140 tower cannot be justified in any way. Said tower is a gross public nuisance and a public hazard to aircraft navigation.
RoscoeDude
|
October 27, 2012
K4332, the FAA has laws that limit towers around airports as this is the only place that aircraft of any kind should be flying at 140', in general. As far an being antiquated I suggest you examine the many benefits to modern society that Amateur Radio provides. Have you ever talked directly to an astronaut? To the Mir space station? To King Hussein of Jordan? (now deceased) Many Amateur Radio ops have. It is very common for astronauts to have an Amateur Radio License and communicate with Amateurs on the ground. To school rooms all over the world, the Collages and Universities around the globe. Thus, provoking students with an interest in Geopolitical, Technological and even currents events that only an astronaut can evoke.

K4332, I contend to you that technology is not outdated and Amateur Radio specifically is an excellent teaching tool, emergency communications device and it is even used to update the National Weather Service through Amateur Radio's Skywarn organization where thousands of Amateur Radio Ops update the NWS as trained weather spotters.

K4332, again I suggest you should educate yourself by attending a local Amateur Radio club near you. You can Google "Amateur Radio club" and your locality for information on attending. You will probably find a club very near you if you are in any kind of population center.
SoSadlyPathetic
|
October 26, 2012
@K43FH2

Sorry you did not understand my post. The fact we have government officials telling us what we can or can not do on our own property and we let them is one of the reasons we're in a mess. You may think that's okay. Well, so be it.

As for law enforcement, the only reason the county even knows about this is because a neighbor lady woke up one day in a bad mood and decided to complain about the towers - not because she had health or safety concerns but because she thought they were ugly.

I see nothing here on any side to be proud of.

Elmer McNutt
|
October 26, 2012
We commend our public officials for carrying out their zoning duties in a responsible manner. This tower is a public danger. It produces dangerous radio frequency radiation and attracts lightning. It is also a danger to aviation, in that aircraft instruments are affected, and a low flying aircraft could strike it.
RoscoeDude
|
November 01, 2012
Elmer McNutt where are you getting your very erroneous information? There is no such hazards as you state. No aircraft has any business flying at 140', nor would any Amateur Radio signal cause any concern to air navigation or instruments of any kind, the FCC forces all Nav Com electronics to be shielded from any and all external RF radiation. Including your cell phone. The only real reason that you are not allowed to use your cell on board is so you will use the $50 a minute in flight phones while in flight. Get some real information and I will look it over, until then please stop crying wolf when no such dangers exist.
MrSunshine
|
October 25, 2012
When the cobb commission meets in "executive session" to discuss "personnel mattes" they should go ahead and approve Nesbitt's variance in advance as MDJ has proven due diligence in his request for a variance and concede that lack of enforcing local statutes presupposes Nesbitts rights and usage of his property.

This will save a lot of time during the regularly scheduled public commission meeting and assure this Cobb longtime taxpayer his right to being a productive fellow citizen who only exercises his right to enjoy his hobby.
Hams No
|
October 26, 2012
MrSunshine, I think what you are not seeing is the fact that local government, or any level of government, is responsible for the General Public Welfare. Nesbitt's tower is a public nuisance and negatively affects the general public welfare. County officials are performing correctly in having this public eyesore and danger removed.
Mike Rager
|
October 25, 2012
My fried Bob wanted to get me interested in ham radio. He let me listen to his ham radio and how men talk on it. I heard elderly men using profanity and arguing with each other. I determined this would not be a hobby that I would be interested in doing. Perhaps the public would have a more informed opinion of ham radio, if they too could hear the 24/7 bickering and feuding I heard on the ham radio channels.
T. J. Smithp
|
October 25, 2012
Mike, I do not agree with your characterization of amateur radio. Amateur radio, like any other activity, is a representation of society as a whole. Some good and some bad. Yes, there are those as you describe, but certainly not 24/7, and they are the minority.

Nevertheless, in regard to the issue at hand, the one sole tower that extends above 70 feet. I do respect the county's position that he should have obtained approval before erecting that tower. However, what is the basis for forcing him to remove the structure? Unless Mr. Nesbit is unable to show it was installed correctly, or if the county is unable to shot there is a danger, they should let this guy have his tower, and continue to use HIS property as he sees fit.

RoscoeDude
|
October 25, 2012
Mike Rager says that because some old men argue and cuss that the permit should be denied. I guess that old men are different inn person than on a radio. But I hear a lot of old men cuss everyday, especially in the barber shop, perhaps we should close all barbershops where old men congregate. Lets see, where else do old guys congregate?

Let the Ham radio guy have the special permit, he has proven his devotion to his city by not making a public assault on these rather short sighted commissioners. This is typical govt. logic of how can we stir the pot and cause trouble. Silly Bureaucrats!
SWL
|
October 27, 2012
@T.J. Smithp

What is your amateur radio call sign?
MrVariance
|
October 25, 2012
Jon Gillooly is doing an excellent job reporting this (as always) I don't seem to recall Planning and Zoning ever seeking public input when the county erected dozens of those 75 foot massive metal telephone poles stretching along Dallas Highway. The county should accept a variance request and allow Nesbitt to continue his hobby in peace. The fact that Nesbitt has made due diligence is a matter of record. The fact that towers have been there for years tells me that save for some recent complaints, the county has approved this taxpayer's property usage.
Lemme See
|
October 25, 2012
MrVariance, what is "due diligence" by your definition? Try as I might, I cannot find anywhere that Nesbitt exercised a shred of due diligence. Because county laws were broken for so many years does not make something legal. The tower is an illegal practice, only recently discovered. The cell towers you refer to are erected only after professional engineering and environmental impact studies are completed. By his own admission, Nesbitt's tower was erected by an "amateur." He failed to follow proper and legal procedure, and now you want to give him a free pass? Unbelievable!
SoSadlyPathetic
|
October 24, 2012
Obviously the days of the peasants being grateful to the dukes and earls for being allowed to live on the land are still among us. I naively believed a man could do whatever he wanted on his own property as long as it didn't effect the health and safety of others. But it seems, at least by these folks the government can tell you what you can do with your land and that is perfectly okay. That's sad.

Oh and he should leave the county because someone thinks he likes things that may have some extra bells and whistles. Really? Do you really think that?

@The Facts and @Excessive CB- what in the world does CB radio have to do with this story. I somehow missed that "fact".

It's easy to see why our country is in such a mess now. It's so sad
K43FH2
|
October 25, 2012
@SoSadlyPathetic

You think the country is in a mess, because county officials are enforcing the law? Me thinks the opposite is true. We are in a mess, because laws are not enforced. You would be the first to yelp if country officials were not enforcing the law. You cannot have it both ways. Yes, a person can do what they want on their own property, if it is legal. The tower is illegal, and we commend our county officials for not looking the other way and doing what we pay them to do, which is enforce the laws.
John M NY
|
October 24, 2012
He should've applied for a permit before building a 140ft tower. He's giving ham radio operators a bad name.

Long Island Ham Radio Operator
VE3TMT
|
October 24, 2012
He built a new taller tower because the sunspot numbers were declining??? Is it really going to make a difference. Sounds like he built a new tower to cever certain geographical areas to me.
Excessive CB
|
October 23, 2012
This is absurd! Who needs a 140 foot CB radio tower?
RoscoeDude
|
October 25, 2012
Amateur radio is not and has no possible connection to your venerated CB radio. There is a vast difference. (no pun intended) the comparison is like calling a Rolls Royce an economy transporter. A person should educate themselves on the facts before they comment erroneously. Unlike this comment about the Amateur Radio and CB. Almost anyone can purchase a CB but under Federal law only a licensed Amateur Radio Operator can purchase an Amateur radio and use it.

It is indeed interesting to see such insulting remarks over a man using his privately owned property in a fashion he deems as a benefit to the public in almost any emergency situation.

Ritner Nesbitt is obviously a publicly minded Amateur as the nay sayers would quickly see when they needed during an emergency to communicate with their son or daughter in Afghanistan or elsewhere around the world.

I am an Amateur Extra which is the top level and congratulate Ritner Nesbitt on his persistence in pursuit of his just rights.

It is truly difficult to fly like an eagle when the flock in only buzzards.
Cobb Monitor
|
October 26, 2012
@RoscoeDude

What is your amateur radio call sign?
dustoff
|
October 23, 2012
While the height of the tower may be allowed under federal regulations (not law), the issue is covered under FAA regulations as well and it states that the installation of any tower should be done under local regulations as well as meeting federal regulations.

His lawyer need to read the regulations more closely and learn the difference between law and regulation.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides