FCC Moves to Preempt Local TV Zoning Decisions

Article excerpt

In a potentially precedent-setting case, Denver TV stations and the broadcast industry have requested that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) preempt a local zoning decision denying approval for a 1200 foot digital-TV antenna on top of Lookout Mountain, just west of Denver. This case could have wide implications for cities and towns across the nation since it is the first time the FCC has been asked to exercise its jurisdiction to reverse a local government's zoning decision.

Last summer, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners denied permission for a bevy of broadcasters collectively known as the Lake Cedar Group to build a tower, popularly referred to as a "super-tower," intended to bring digital television, or HDTV, to the Denver market. The building permit/rezoning request was denied by Jefferson County Board of Commissioners for, among other things, failure to comply with applicable land use plans, failure to meet set back requirements (three houses were within the "fallzone" equal to 110 percent of the height of the tower"), and failure to identify other reasonable alternative sites.

In response, the Lake Cedar Group filed a suit against Jefferson County seeking a reversal of its decision and petitioned the FCC to overrule the local authorities. …