© 2004 Updated: 9/29/04

KCNC Channel 4 Sues JeffCo for Denying DTV Transmitter

The Jefferson County Board of Adjustment denied the TV station’s appeal on March 21, 2001. The CBS (Westinghouse)-owned station wants to install a digital television transmitter on a 40-foot “stub tower” adjacent to the station’s 825-foot tower on residential-zoned Lookout Mountain lots. The transmitter would have broadcast signals directly into a home within 150 feet. KCNC has taken the appeal to JeffCo District Court.

CARE attorneys Deb Carney and Scott Albertson testified at the BOA hearing that the requirements of the 1993 zoning resolutions for “legal non-conforming” tower use of residential zoned land does not allow expansion. CARE presented documents of stations 4, 6, 7, 9, and 20 FCC petition to preempt JeffCo Commissioners’ denial of a proposed Supertower in 1999. CARE presented a letter to the FCC from attorney Tom Ragonetti stating:

    “Jefferson County tightened the nonconforming use provisions with respect to towers by prohibiting (1) any increases in the height or weight bearing capacity of existing towers beyond that necessary to conform to safety regulations adopted by the County and (2) any increase in the number of antennas located on an existing tower…

    “… faced with (prohibition of) utilizing their existing towers for digital television antennas… to their respective existing broadcast towers in the Lookout Mountain Antenna Farm, which towers exist as a legal nonconforming use under the County Zoning Resolution… the County hoped that the towers would become obsolete…

    “… the County proposed a plan under which Broadcasters’ towers would be amortized out of existence after a period of years… (the County) tightened nonconforming use provisions to make continued use more difficult and to prevent the addition of new antennas on existing towers.”

Carney also provided copies of documentation for “Operation Buffalo Chips,” a covert FCC investigation of Lookout Mountain in collaboration with Denver broadcasters in August, 1998.

Over 50 towers and 1000 devices exist in Mount Vernon Canyon. The towers are lower in elevation than 1000 homes and send signals directly at families, schools and historic sites.

Lookout Mountain resident and professional electrical engineer Al Hislop testified that existing devices on the tower are used for microwave relay, not for broadcast. Hislop also noted that the proposed digital TV antenna would produce extreme interference for nearby residents and could operate at 15 times more power from an approved tower on Eldorado Mountain. “The county should not allow any more expansion of this non-conforming use. Going from one megawatt in 1955 to the present 12 megawatts is a massive increase.”

No court date has been set for the appeal. KCNC is a member of Lake Cedar Group, LLC, which is developing a second rezoning proposal for a Super Tower on Lookout Mountain.

The same view in the fog of morning.

JeffCo Attorney Tim Cox filed an Answering Brief to KCNC’s appeal on October 19. He states, “The law in Colorado strongly disfavors legal nonconforming uses and encourages their elimination at the earliest possible time.”

• Many documents and details are available at www.c-a-r-e.org.

Above: Meeting of CARE Antenna Tower Committee, 1999