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Date of Issue: April 29, 2009

Satellite dish rule getting tune up

Holmes Beach city officials are reconsidering a regulation that classifies satellite dish antennas as “structures” in the building code.

The classification means that a property owner must first obtain a building permit prior to installing a dish, according to attorney Warren Pies, who works with city attorney Patricia Petruff.

Additionally, if the dish is equipped with an electric power drive, the city’s regulation requires an electrical permit as well.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said satellite dishes have become more popular and smaller since the city began classifying them as “structures” and requiring a building permit for their installation.

The mayor, as well as members of the city commission, said it is time to update the regulation by eliminating the “structure” classification and simply restricting the size of dishes, probably to no more than about 3 feet in radius.

Pies, in a memo to Petruff that was passed along to city staff and elected officials, stated that the city’s code violates the Federal Communication Commission’s Over-the-Air Reception Devices rule adopted in 1996 and dealing with restrictions on viewers’ ability to receive programming signals from direct-broadcast satellites.

The FCC rule prohibits most restrictions that “unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.”

“The city’s code is currently in violation of the OTARD regulations and should be amended,” Pies wrote.

The city commission is expected to take up the issue at an upcoming meeting, possibly as early as this week.