January 23, 2015 12:00 AM
Opponents of the radio towers are expected to pack Whatcom County council chambers next Tuesday. Photograph By file
Residents on both sides of the border are expected to pack the Whatcom County council chambers next Tuesday night to hear a decision on the contentious radio towers proposal.
At a closed door meeting prior to the public session, council members will consider BBC Broadcasting’s appeal of the county hearing examiner’s decision last fall to reject the company’s application to erect five transmission towers in Point Roberts.
The council’s decision is to be announced as the first item on the agenda of the public meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Members of the Cross Border Coalition to Stop the Radio Towers are asking concerned residents to make the drive to Bellingham, although no submissions from the public will be heard on the issue.
Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington and Corporation of Delta staff members are among those planning to attend.
BBC Broadcasting Inc. wants to erect the 45-metre (150-foot) steel towers at an undeveloped lot on McKenzie Way in Point Roberts just south of the 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 currently uses antenna in Ferndale, Wash., but wants to relocate them for a stronger signal.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a construction permit but a zoning permit is required from Whatcom County.
Just days before a county public hearing on the proposal was scheduled to begin last October, the hearing examiner announced he had denied the application
because the towers exceeded the height limit established for Point Roberts. It was a pleasant surprise for opponents, who had been fighting on several fronts while preparing for a lengthy hearing.
In a move not unexpected, BBC Broadcasting Inc. filed an appeal with county hoping to overturn that examiner’s decision. The appeal can only address an alleged “specific error of law or how the decision is clearly erroneous on the entire record.”
Opponents argued KRPI’s operation in Ferndale caused considerable public nuisance due to interference with electronic equipment, while residents also expressed concern about potential health impacts.
The company argued any issues that had arisen in Ferndale were long resolved
and that any problems with electronics here would have been addressed.
If the council upholds the hearing examiner’s decision, the application will have hit the end of the road as far as the county level, but BBC Broadcasting Inc. still has the option of taking the matter to court.
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