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New York City Ham Wins Appeal, Can Keep His Tower


In September 2010, Paul Isaacs, W2JGQ, of New York City, obtained a building permit for his Amateur Radio antenna support structure, comprised of a 40 foot tower topped by a Yagi antenna. Isaacs installed his antenna system on the roof of his four story brownstone -- 58 feet above ground -- in lower Manhattan.


Almost four months later -- months after the erection of the system -- the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) declared its intention to revoke Isaacs’ properly attained building permit, claiming that his Amateur Radio antenna system was not, in the Department’s opinion, “an accessory use.” Isaacs appealed the decision through the Department’s bureaucracy, and when that didn’t reverse the decision, he had a series of hearings before the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals.

In November 2012, the Board ruled that though perhaps uncommon, an Amateur Radio antenna system is indeed an accessory use under New York City’s zoning ordinance and the building permit was properly granted. “The Board agrees with DCP [Department of City Planning] that the size of a use can be relevant to whether it is ‘incidental to’ and ‘customarily found in connection with’ a principal use,” the Board wrote in its decision. “However, it finds that in the case of Amateur Radio towers, unlike cellular [towers] and certain other uses, there is no articulated standard to guide DOB in determining at what height a particular radio tower becomes a non-accessory.”

The full decision may be found here under “Application of Paul K. Isaacs.” Isaacs was represented by attorneys Fred Hopengarten, K1VR, Stuart Klein and Chris Slowik.




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