Wednesday, 27 July 2016 17:05

A “HAND” Radio Antenna: A Humorous Look at One Man's Dealings With City Hall

By Dennis J. McCarthy, AAØA

Thirty-four years ago, the City of St. Louis had specific ordinances for the erection of ham antennas and towers.  I found this out when I tried to erect an antenna again in the city last year, this time at a new address. There were no HOA or other restrictions.  First, I applied for a ham antenna permit.  A mistake, I later learned. 

Click on the title to read the rest of the article.


The application was made May 21, 2015 at a cost $29, and indicated it was for a “Hand Radio Permit.” It was for a Cushcraft R-7 antenna.  On June 15, I received a letter from the Department of Public Safety advising me I must appear for a hearing for a conditional use permit for a “hand radio antenna”.  The letter stated:  “This hearing must find the proposed use conforms to the following standards:

1. The use will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, morals or general welfare. (Who ever heard of an immoral antenna?)

2. The use will not cause serious injury to the neighboring property values.

3. The use will contribute to, enhance and promote the general welfare and convenience of the specific location.”

The letter added the hearing would be held July 9.  Then, a second letter dated June 17 arrived saying “permit granted”.  Which letter was correct?  Did I have a permit or didn’t I?

So I went downtown and was told by an employee of the Zoning Department that I still had to attend the conditional use hearing, and the permit would then have to be approved by the board of aldermen and, oh yes, the hearing would cost $50 more.  I asked to speak with the person in charge.

The zoning administrator entered the room and said:  “Don’t bother, I’ve heard all the arguments.”  I asked, “Have you heard of PRB1?”  She replied, “I’ve talked with the city counselor, and he said it doesn’t apply to the City of St. Louis.”

An employee suggested I get a letter from my alderman and bring witnesses to the hearing.  My alderman wrote a favorable letter. Six other hams showed up. I got a letter from the lawyer who lives on one side of us. The neighbor on the other side, now a St. Louis Police Department major, showed up in uniform.

Then, I decided to put in a more conservative antenna, a Hustler vertical, 23 feet tall, weighing 12 pounds.  The inspector showed up and said I would have to dig a 4x4x4-foot hole for the antenna's concrete base.  Thousands of pounds of concrete for a 12-pound antenna?  “Either you do it or I’ll take pictures, post notices on your house and have the police arrest you!”

So I called City Hall and a woman said the inspector was right, the antenna was “40 meters tall....that’s over 130 feet!”  I said, “that’s one of the frequency bands!”   She replied, “one minute.”  Then, a man came on and said:  “There are no ham antenna laws. Just drive a pipe into the ground below the frost line and attach the antenna.”

A few days later the approved original permit application arrived.  The antenna went up last October, and I haven’t heard from anyone since.  But, I am $79 poorer for a permit I didn’t need!

Read 2389 times Last modified on Thursday, 01 September 2016 16:06