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Do local zoning committees have say over Low Power FM signals?

#LPFMThere’s an interesting conversation happening at our Radio Survivor discussion forum. Forum member Paul writes:

“We have an FCC license for a LPFM for our community. While seeking a permit to construct a tower, the zoning committee expressed a concern that function of the wireless telephones, cell phones, TVs, etc., in our area would be interfered with by our station. I fail to see that the low power output of a well-designed commercial transmitter would cause such interference, but need some references to which to refer the committee.”

To which forum participant Tightboard responds:

“Do not get caught up in dueling technical opinions. Zoning commissions have no authority whatsoever over radiofrequency interference [RFI]. They cannot legally deny permission to holders of FCC licenses and construction permits on the basis that their stations might cause interference to home equipment.

Authority over RFI is 100% FCC and 0% local governments. Do not expect commissioners to know that. Decades of FCC rules and case law are very clear on this subject and the municipal attorney better know it.

Note also that most of the controversy over this subject concerns mobile phone base stations and not broadcast radio stations. If you Google the subject, most of what you’ll see is on mobile phone base stations (also called “personal wireless facilities”).

It is also worth pointing out that a LPFM permittee has a limited amount of time during which it has to construct and begin broadcasting. Local governments can’t unreasonably delay the necessary permits.

If they really do cause trouble for you, you’ll need a good communications lawyer familiar with this topic.”

Tightboard also cites a House conference report from 1982 regarding authority over RFI:

“[s]uch matters [involving RFI] shall not be regulated by local or state law, nor shall radio transmitting apparatus be subject to local or state regulation as part of any effort to resolve an RFI complaint. The Conferees believe that radio transmitter operators should not be subject to fines, forfeitures or other liability imposed by any local or state authority as a result of interference appearing in home electronic equipment or systems. Rather, the Conferees intend that regulation of RFI phenomena shall be imposed only by the [Federal Communications] Commission.”

It would be interesting to know if other Low Power FM projects have been contacted by local commissions regarding these matters. You can post comments below or on our forum.

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One Response to Do local zoning committees have say over Low Power FM signals?

  1. Jack Wagon May 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    Our city council and zoning board was so bad, our group has filed to move. Thousands wasted. Last summer emails of approval then months and letter with complete reversal…

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