Broadcasting company appeals radio tower rejection

DELTA – The company behind the contentious plan to erect radio transmission towers in Point Roberts is taking its fight to court.

BBC Broadcasting Inc. has filed a LUPA (Land Use Petition Act) appeal in Skagit County Superior Court. In Washington state, LUPA provides a direct judicial review of land use decisions.

The company has gone to court to appeal a decision by Whatcom County council, which upheld a ruling by the county’s hearing examiner to reject the towers because they exceeded height limits in the American peninsula.

BBC Broadcasting Inc. wants to erect five 45-metre (150-foot) steel towers at an undeveloped lot on McKenzie Way just a few hundred metres from the Tsawwassen border.

The towers would transmit South Asian radio station KRPI, AM 1550, which broadcasts from studios in Richmond to a Lower Mainland audience. Also known as Sher-E-Punjab AM 1550, the station uses antenna in Ferndale, Wash., but wants to relocate them for a stronger signal.

Residents on both sides of the border are concerned the towers would create blanketing interference that would cause havoc with household electronics.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a construction permit but a zoning permit was required from Whatcom County.

Just days before a county public hearing on the proposal was scheduled to begin last fall, the hearing examiner announced he had denied the application. It was a pleasant surprise for opponents, who had been fighting the project on several fronts for a year-and-a-half.

Opponents say the company believes the application trumps height limits because it can be considered public utility infrastructure, but residents claim that’s not the case as the towers would serve no useful purpose for the Point Roberts community.

To help pay its mounting legal bills, the Cross Border Coalition to Stop the Towers will host a community fundraiser at the Harris Barn in Ladner on June 7. Delta council, which is also opposed to the towers, recently gave the group a facility fee rental grant for the event. sgyarmati@delta-optimist.com

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