Court Rules Excessive Antenna Application Fees Violated Reasonable Accommodation

Long-pending Amateur Radio antenna litigation that ARRL helped to fund has finally borne fruit. The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department has ruled in the case of Myles Landstein, N2EHG, that the Town of LaGrange, New York, not only overstepped its state-granted authority by assessing excessive fees, but violated the limited federal preemption PRB-1 in the process. PRB-1 requires municipalities and states to “reasonably” accommodate Amateur Radio antennas and to apply the “minimum practicable regulation” in handling Amateur Radio antenna applications. The ruling is slated to be published as a case decision. Landstein had wanted to erect a 70-foot antenna support structure; the Town of LaGrange has a 35-foot height limit.

“This case, which goes back to 2013, was about applying PRB-1 to a situation in which a municipality attempted to thwart the installation and maintenance of ham radio antennas by imposing excessive permit application costs on the ham applicant,” said communications attorney Chris Imlay, W3KD, who is familar with the case. Imlay said the FCC has refused to clarify the cost-prohibition issue as it relates to PRB-1’s “minimum practicable regulation” and reasonable accommodation provisions of PRB-1.

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