SWANTON — The village of Swanton acted improperly when it denied a resident a permit to erect a 60-foot ham-radio antenna four years ago, a Fulton County Common Pleas Court judge has ruled.
Judge James E. Barber ruled that federal and state laws pertaining to amateur radio communications pre-empt local zoning and affirmed Gary Wodtke’s right to erect the tower, which Mr. Wodtke said would “improve reception and transmission to a significant degree” compared to the shorter antenna he already used.
Village code restricts antennas to no higher than 20 feet above a building’s roof line unless the property is five acres or larger and other conditions are met.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Wodtke particularly cited a section of Ohio law stating that local or county authorities “shall not restrict the height or location of amateur station antenna structures in such a way as to prevent effective amateur radio service communications.” The village counterargued that the state law unconstitutionally abridged Swanton’s home rule.
Judge Barber’s decision noted that Mr. Wodtke’s neighbors had consented to his plans for a taller antenna at his home. Mr. Wodtke has been a licensed ham-radio operator since 1979, and moved into his Swanton home in 2005.