Framingham Amateur Misha Filippov, KD1MF, Wins in MA Land Court Decision

Fred Hopengarten, K1VR, writes:

Filippova v. Framingham ZBA, Trial Court, Massachusetts Land Court, 20 MISC 000073(HPS))
Attorneys for Mr. Filippov: Fred Hopengarten, K1VR (Lincoln, MA), and Ethan Dively (Wellesley, MA).

The Building Commissioner granted a building permit for an 80’-tall amateur radio tower as an accessory use. The ZBA revoked the permit, applying the setback requirements of the Wireless Communications Facilities (WCF) special permit Bylaw to the tower proposed by Misha Filippov, KD1MF. The Land Court reversed, annulling the decision of the ZBA and ordering the Building Commissioner to reinstate the permit.

The WCF Bylaw’s definition of a tower is very broad, and the ham’s tower appeared to fit within that definition – causing the ZBA to require the WCF setback of structure height plus 20’. However, the next sentence in the same WCF paragraph required that “any such facility shall be a minimum of three hundred feet from a residential zoning district or residential use.” The Board suggested that KD1MF “re- apply to place the tower in a more central location on the lot, farther away from the abutters.”

The court recognized that amateur radio towers, under the Framingham Bylaw, are exempt from special permit requirements. The court wrote: “By its decision, the Board has taken the position that it may pick and choose which of those requirements will remain applicable to uses that are, by the explicit terms of the Bylaw, exempt from the special permit requirement. No reasonable reading of the Bylaw permits this unfettered exercise of discretion.” The court decided that it could not accept the Board’s construction of the Bylaw “if the consequences of doing so are absurd or unreasonable, such that it could not have been what the [legislative body] intended.”

The court decided that applying the accessory use setback for amateur radio towers was “[t]he only result that gives effect to the entire Bylaw and is consonant with common sense and reasonableness. This conclusion is buttressed by the Board’s inelegant attempt to reconcile irreconcilable provisions of the Bylaw by simply declaring that it has the discretion to pick and choose which shall apply.”

“[T]he Board appears to have claimed the roving and unfettered discretion to selectively apply and to disregard dimensional requirements as it chooses.”

This was not a PRB-1 decision, but rather a question of which setback rule applied. Mr. Filippov is a very happy radio amateur.

[See also: “Neighbors are fighting a Framingham man’s OK to erect 80-foot ham radio tower“]

 

RF Exposure Rules Presentation Video Recording

screen grab from RF Exposure PresentationMany amateurs have requested a recording of the RF Exposure Rules presentation featuring Eastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN on May 4, 2021.  ARRL Laboratory Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI also participated in the call, fielding questions from the audience.

The presentation can be viewed at: <https://youtu.be/7dSieKF3rm0>. 

[See also: Additional RF Exposure Rules Presentation, May 4, 2021]

Additional RF Exposure Rules Presentation, May 4, 2021

Dan Brown, W1DANEastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN, will hold another presentation addressing the new FCC RF exposure rules on May 4 at 7:30 PM using the ARRL GoToWebinar platform. 

His April 27 talk was a hugely successful–a maximum number of 100 connections for the call was reached just as the discussion started. The GoToWebinar has a much higher limit and should accommodate all who are interested.  ARRL Laboratory Manger Ed Hare, W1RFI, will serve as Technical Moderator on the call.

To sign up for the presentation, visit:

Tech Support: (833) 851-8340
 

RF Exposure Rules Discussion Video Posted to Internet

Dan Brown, W1DANThe April 27, 2021 RF Exposure Rules Zoom Discussion by Eastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN, has been posted to the Eastern MA ARRL website at: <https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1_qIGZhHyMrha-axJt87Dcu0UZuJO0t8F>. 

The discussion was a huge hit. The maximum number of 100 connections for the call was reached just as the discussion started; many late arrivals were disappointed to be turned away, but W1DAN plans to hold at least one additional online discussion before the May 3 deadline using a larger “Zoom room.” 

Watch this space for details. 

New FCC RF Exposure Rules Discussion via Zoom, April 27, 2021

FCC logoEastern MA Technical Coordinator Dan Brown, W1DAN, writes:

QST!

The new FCC RF exposure rules become effective May 3, but do not fret! I will explain what we should do. Please forward this invite to anyone you may think is interested.

Dan
W1DAN
EMA-ARRL Technical Coordinator

Dan Brown is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: RF Exposure
Time: Apr 27, 2021 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/98941600273?pwd=TDc2Mjd4NldWdjBtdzlwY0JGRjhkZz09

Meeting ID: 989 4160 0273
Passcode: 134832
One tap mobile
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+13017158592,,98941600273#,,,,*134832# US (Washington DC)

Dial by your location
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Meeting ID: 989 4160 0273
Passcode: 134832
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/abXuYdDvqm

FCC Issues Enforcement Advisory: Radio Users Again Reminded Not to Use Radios in Crimes

FCC sealARLB013:

On April 20, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a new Enforcement Advisory, repeating the admonishments contained in a January Advisory that no licensee or user of the Amateur or Personal Radio Services may use any radio equipment in connection with unlawful activities of any nature.

The Enforcement Advisory can be found online in PDF format at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-21-453A1.pdf.

The Commission specifically cautioned that individuals found to have used radios in connection with any illegal activity are “subject to severe penalties, including significant fines, seizure of the offending equipment, and in some cases, criminal prosecution.”

In addition, licensees should be aware that illegal operation in any service or band, including completely outside the amateur allocations, could potentially disqualify a person from holding any FCC license in any service, not just the Amateur Service.

Any amateur observing a suspicious infraction that might be of illegal or criminal nature should report it to their local law enforcement office or the FBI.

Amateur Radio Fee Collection Schedule

FCC sealContrary to what you may have heard or read, the collection of application fees for the amateur radio service and certain other services will NOT begin  on April 19, 2021.
 
Although April 19, 2021 is the date the rules in the FCC Report and Order adopted last December generally take effect – i.e., one month after the R&O was published in the March 19, 2021 Federal Register – certain parts of those rules, including collection of the application fees for the amateur radio service, will NOT begin on that date. 
 
The effective date for new amateur radio fees has not yet been established. The FCC explicitly states in the published Notice that the fees will not take effect until:
     *  the requisite notice has been provided to Congress; AND
     *  the FCC’s information technology systems and internal procedures have been updated; AND
     *  the Commission publishes future notice(s) in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of such rules.
 
The League’s counsel for FCC matters estimates that the effective start date for collecting the fees will be some time this summer, but regardless of the exact timing we will have advance notice.

MA Ham Operator License Plate Update, February 18, 2021

MA ham operator plate sample
From: nediv.arrl.org:
 
Randy Dore, AI1G, writes:
 
I received my new Ham Operator plates from the RMV this past Saturday, February 13, 2021.
 
A side note for anyone who has ordered plates–  All plate are retro dated back to the application processing date (mine was December 8th) and and you should be aware that they automatically cancel the old registration number 60 days after the processing date and request you dispose of current plates locally by recycling them.  This could lead to a gap between plates if there is a delivery delay. 
 
My plates only expired 5 days before I received my new AI1G plates because of the processing delays.
 
So, be on the lookout for your new plates in the mail.
 
[See also: 
 

ARRL Board Considers Plan to Cover New $35 FCC Fee for Some Young Members

ARRL logofrom nediv.arrl.org:

At its Annual Meeting in January, the ARRL Board of Directors considered a motion to offer a new plan that would pay the new but not-yet-implemented $35 FCC application fee for a limited number of new radio amateurs younger than age 18 who, at the time of testing, belonged to an ARRL Affiliated 501(c)(3) charitable organization and passed their tests through an ARRL VEC-sponsored exam session. The proposal called for reducing the VEC fee for these candidates to $5. The initial proposal came from ARRL Southeastern Division Director Mickey Baker, N4MB. Other Board members offered subsidiary motions. Supporters said the purpose behind the motion was to ameliorate the potential financial hardship the pending FCC application fee posed on certain minors applying for their first license, and to encourage new youth membership. [Full story]

 

FCC Reduces Proposed Amateur Radio Application Fee to $35

FCC sealFrom ARRL Web:

12/30/2020 – The FCC has agreed with ARRL and other commenters that its proposed $50 fee for certain amateur radio applications was “too high to account for the minimal staff involvement in these applications.” In a Report and Order (R&O), released on December 29, the FCC scaled back to $35 the fee for a new license application, a special temporary authority (STA) request, a rule waiver request, a license renewal application, and a vanity call sign application. All fees are per application. There will be no fee for administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address.

This fall, ARRL filed comments in firm opposition to the FCC proposal to impose a $50 fee on amateur radio license and application fees and urged its members to follow suit.

As the FCC noted in its R&O, although some commenters supported the proposed $50 fee as reasonable and fair, “ARRL and many individual commenters argued that there was no cost-based justification for application fees in the Amateur Radio Service.” The fee proposal was contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which was adopted to implement portions of the “Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act” of 2018 — the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act.”

“After reviewing the record, including the extensive comments filed by amateur radio licensees and based on our revised analysis of the cost of processing mostly automated processes discussed in our methodology section, we adopt a $35 application fee, a lower application fee than the Commission proposed in the NPRM for personal licenses, in recognition of the fact that the application process is mostly automated,” the FCC said in the R&O. “We adopt the proposal from the NPRM to assess no additional application fee for minor modifications or administrative updates, which also are highly automated.”

The FCC said it received more than 197,000 personal license applications in 2019, which includes not only ham radio license applications but commercial radio operator licenses and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) licenses.

The FCC turned away the arguments of some commenters that the FCC should exempt amateur radio licensees. The FCC stated that it has no authority to create an exemption “where none presently exists.”

The FCC also disagreed with those who argued that amateur radio licensees should be exempt from fees because of their public service contribution during emergencies and disasters.

“[W]e we are very much aware of these laudable and important services amateur radio licensees provide to the American public,” the FCC said, but noted that specific exemptions provided under Section 8 of the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act” requiring the FCC to assess the fees do not apply to amateur radio personal licenses. “Emergency communications, for example, are voluntary and are not required by our rules,” the FCC noted. “As we have noted previously, ‘[w]hile the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communications service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications, is one of the underlying principles of the amateur service, the amateur service is not an emergency radio service.’”

The Act requires that the FCC switch from a Congressionally-mandated fee structure to a cost-based system of assessment. The FCC proposed application fees for a broad range of services that use the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS), including the Amateur Radio Service, which had been excluded previously. The 2018 statute excludes the Amateur Service from annual regulatory fees, but not from application fees.

“While the Ray Baum’s Act amended Section 9 and retained the regulatory fee exemption for amateur radio station licensees, Congress did not include a comparable exemption among the amendments it made to Section 8 of the Act,” the FCC R&O explained.

The effective date of the fee schedule has not been established, but it will be announced at least 30 days in advance. The FCC has directed the Office of Managing Director, in consultation with relevant offices and bureaus, to draft a notice for publication in the Federal Register announcing when rule change(s) will become effective, “once the relevant databases, guides, and internal procedures have been updated.” 

FCC Posts Email Address Reminder On ULS Landing Page

FCC logoFrom ARRL Web:

12/21/2020 – The FCC is encouraging users of the Universal Licensing Service (ULS) to have an email address on file with the FCC.

“Applicants are strongly encouraged to provide an email address on their license application(s), which will trigger the electronic issuance of an official copy of their license(s) to the email provided upon application grant. Per the timing specified in Rulemaking FCC 20-126, the FCC will no longer print, and licensees will no longer be able to request, hard copy license authorizations sent by mail.”

The FCC has not yet established the date by which an email address will be required on all applications. ARRL VEC already has begun including email addresses on FCC applications for as many applicants as possible.

MA Ham Operator License Plate Update, December 8, 2020

MA ham operator sample license plateRandy Dore, AI1G, writes on December 8, 2020:
 
I received a call this afternoon from Mass DOT RMV that my [ham operator license plate] application has been processed and the new plates should be completed in the next few weeks. She said they are picking through them in no particular order as there was quite a backlog.
 
[…]
 
You can pass the news on this to the membership. They are working on the backlog of applications.
 
Happy holidays,
 
Randy Dore AI1G
Grafton

MA Ham Radio License Plate Update

MA ham operator sample license platePhil Temples, K9HI, received the following email on November 5, 2020 from Phyllis Burke, a supervisor employed by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles in response to his question about the status of his ham radio license plate order:

“The RMV has out in a fix (sic) for these plates and will hopefully be done with in the next month or two.  We will contact you when it is completed and order the plate.  I apologize for the inconvenience.” 

-Phyllis Burke <phyllis.burke@state.ma.us>.

[See: Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles is Not Processing Ham Operator Plate Applications]

 

Ham Operator Plate Renewal Problems at MA Registry of Motor Vehicles

Updated October 28, 2020 at 10:00 AM

All Massachusetts hams with Ham Radio passenger special plates must renew their plate registration by the last day of November. Eastern MA ARRL staff are receiving reports of license plate renewal problems when attempting to use the online system. Apparently the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ computer system doesn’t recognize the “slash” representing the “lightning bolt” icon. For example, the call sign WX1XXX is actually coded in the system as “WX1/XXX”; KX1X is “KX1/X.”

Renewal by phone DOES appear to work when you input the phone ID code listed on the application.

Another ARRL member adds, “I found that Registry services at AAA offices can overcome the issue.  One must be a AAA member, and an appointment is necessary.”

This latest problem is in addition to the fact that MA RMV cannot process new Ham Radio Plate applications.  See: https://nediv.arrl.org/2020/10/01/massachusetts-department-of-motor-vehicles-is-not-processing-ham-operator-plate-applications/.

FCC Proposes to Reinstate Fees for Amateur Radio Licensees—Talking Points

FCC sealFrom nediv.arrl.org:

Amateur radio licensees would pay a $50 fee for each amateur radio license application if the FCC adopts rules it proposed [this past August]. Included in the FCC’s fee proposal are applications for new licenses, renewal and upgrades to existing licenses, and vanity call sign requests. Excluded are applications for administrative updates, such as changes of address, and annual regulatory fees.

The FCC proposal is contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which was adopted to implement portions of the “Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act” of 2018 — the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act.”  

“The fees Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the October 15, 2020 Federal Register (https://tinyurl.com/yyk8f2yp). The deadline for comments is November 16, 2020, and the Reply comment deadline is November 30, 2020.  As you discuss this [with your fellow amateurs,] or write articles for your newsletters, you might find the following suggestions helpful.” -David R. Siddall, K3ZJ   [Full story]

Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles is Not Processing Ham Operator Plate Applications

From EMA ARRL Section News, September 30, 2020:

For almost a year now, the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles has been unable to process new “Ham Operator” special plate applications. According to one Western Massachusetts amateur who spoke to a DMV employee, “[…] the person I talked to informed me that this issue has been referred to the software company/vendor. No estimate has been placed on a resolution. She refused to tell me how many applications are being held up. I asked if there was anyone I could refer this to, she declined and said there was no one to escalate it to.”

At the request of Western MA Section Manager Ray Lajoie, KB1LRL, MA State Government Liaison Hank McCarl, W4RIG, contacted MA State Senator Bruce Tarr’s office to inquire. A legislative spokesperson from that office informed Hank that all special series and vanity license plates that have specific letter-number requests are currently impacted. However, plates for which numbers are sequentially assigned; e.g., 0001 through 9999, are being processed.

How many other amateurs in Massachusetts have been affected by this snafu at the DMV? Please write and let us know at <k1tw@arrl.org>

FCC Application Fee Proposal Proceeding is Open for Comments

FCC sealFrom ARRL Web:

09/03/2020 – Comments are being accepted on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which proposes application fees for radio amateurs. Formal deadlines for comments and reply comments will be determined once the NPRM appears in the Federal Register. Comments may be filed now, however, by using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), posting to MD Docket No. 20-270. The docket is already open for accepting comments, even though deadlines have not yet been set.

FCC Proposes to Reinstate Amateur Radio Service Fees

FCC sealFrom the ARRL Website, 08/28/2020:

Amateur radio licensees would pay a $50 fee for each amateur radio license application if the FCC adopts rules it proposed this week. Included in the FCC’s fee proposal are applications for new licenses, renewal and upgrades to existing licenses, and vanity call sign requests. Excluded are applications for administrative updates, such as changes of address, and annual regulatory fees.

The FCC proposal is contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which was adopted to implement portions of the “Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act” of 2018 — the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act.”

The Act requires that the FCC switch from a Congressionally-mandated fee structure to a cost-based system of assessment. In its NPRM, the FCC proposed application fees for a broad range of services that use the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS), including the Amateur Radio Service that had been excluded by an earlier statute. The new statute excludes the Amateur Service from annual regulatory fees, but not from application fees. [Full story]

“Framingham residents successful in fight to halt ham radio tower construction. For now.”

From Framingham Wicked Local,

Tower Controversy in Framingham continues
In a unanimous decision, the [Zoning Board of Appeals] voted to vacate the building permit because, in its determination, the ham radio tower Framingham resident Mikhail Filippov wants to build doesn’t comply with local setback requirements as proposed. Filippov’s attorney says he’s waiting for the ZBA’s final opinion before he decides where to take the case next.
FRAMINGHAM – The radio tower that Mikhail Filippov wants to build is 80 feet tall. It would be made of extra-strength steel. It would pick up frequencies that allow him to speak with people as far away as Moscow, even in a communications blackout that cut off phone lines and internet.

Filippov is an amateur ham radio operator who lives at 273 Prospect St., which is where he wants to build the tower. The city issued him a building permit, and Filippov started to pour the foundation.

Then his neighbors found out.

Since then, those neighbors have been mounting a vigorous campaign to halt the project, which they argue would be a dangerous eyesore that scars the neighborhood and hurts families’ nest eggs. On top of all that, the tower as proposed is illegal, they said.

[Full story]

 

[See also: Neighbors are fighting a Framingham man’s OK to erect an 80-foot ham radio tower”]