The Massachusetts PRB-1 law: Chapter 225 of the Acts of 1995
Read this! Tom Carrigan WA1NVS, author of H-2782, wrote a memo on the impact of H-2782, the Massachusetts PRB-1 law.
H-2782… What was it? H-2782 was a PRB-1 bill introduced in the Massachusetts legislature. The bill was designed to put the language of PRB-1, codified as CFR 47 part 97.15(e) into Massachusetts law.
Governor William Weld signed the bill into law on November 21, 1995, completing the four-year process started by ARRL Volunteer Counsel Thomas Carrigan, WA1NVS, who wrote and filed the bill in late 1991.
The bill was passed by both chambers of the legislature early in 1995. Governor Weld’s staff sent the bill back to the legislature for fine tuning. In the last week of 1995’s legislative session, both chambers enacted the bill with the changes requested by Governor Weld.
The text of the law is as follows:
Chapter 225 of the Acts of 1995
SECTION 1. No zoning ordinance or by-law shall prohibit the construction or use of an antenna structure by a federally licensed amateur radio operator. Zoning ordinances and by-laws may reasonably regulate the location and height of such antenna structures for the purposes of health, safety, or aesthetics; provided, however, that such ordinances and by-laws reasonably allow for sufficient height of such antenna structures so as to effectively accommodate amateur radio communications by federally licensed amateur radio operators and constitute the minimum practicable regulation necessary to accomplish the legitimate purposes of the city or town enacting such ordinance or by-law.SECTION 2. Nothing in this act shall be construed as limiting the authority of any architectural or historic district commission established pursuant to any general or specific law
There’s too much legal QRM in that. What does it really mean? Like the Federal PRB-1, the Massachusetts law does not give amateurs a green light to do anything they want to do with their antennas. Hams are still bound by the zoning laws of their cities towns, and they will still have to go through existing permitting processes. So what’s new? Now when hams go to town hall, they can point out that Chapter 225 places limits on local regulations. If you’d like to sound like you know what you’re talking about, refer to “Chapter 225 of the Acts of 1995, amending the General Laws Chapter 40A, section 3.” In correspondence, you can use the shorthand: “St. 1995, c. 225.”
What doesn’t the law do? The law applies only to local by-laws. It does not affect restrictive covenants that may apply to your property. In Massachusetts, restrictive covenants are not usually a problem for amateurs, except in the newest developments. Recently, a bill was introduced in the US Congress to reduce the impact of covenants on amateur radio. Stay tuned for details.
Once you’ve read Tom’s memo, ask around about the experience of other hams in your area. Find out what special tricks work in your town. And talk it up on the air. Despite the importance of this law to Massachusetts amateurs, it seems that only a small percentage of us are aware of the bill.
For information on the bill, contact Shawn O’Donnell, K3HI at firstname.lastname@example.org