Triple S to consider regulations on satellite dishes

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You may not be able to put your dish in some places

By Scotty McDaniel

Triple S Planning and Zoning is considering new regulations that would dictate where homeowners can install satellite dishes.

Amended regulations discussed at Tuesday’s meeting would require a new permit process for the installation of dishes greater than three feet in diameter and would create explicit language specifying where on a house a homeowner could place a dish that is three feet or smaller.

No small dish could be placed in the front, side or rear of any structure if the location faces public streets on lots of less than 5 acres, nor could they be placed on a front facade or roofline facing a public street.

These dishes would only be allowed in a side or rear yard, and they must meet the principal structure side or rear-yard setback restrictions for the zoning district or be a minimum of five feet - whichever is greater. A zoning permit would not be required.

Triple S plans to vote on the guidelines on Nov. 18.

But Chuck Hogg, president of Shelby Wireless – which provides high-speed Internet service to about 1,000 customers, or 1 of every 15 homes in Shelby County -- said Triple S may not be able to introduce such restrictions because the FCC has rules for dishes that are three feet or less.

Hogg said the FCC prohibits a zoning commission from putting a restriction on dishes that are one meter or less in diameter if the restriction unreasonably delays or prevents use, increases the cost, or prevents a person from receiving or transmitting a quality signal. There are exceptions for safety issues or if historic preservation is involved.

He said that the need for quality of signal is something the commission needs to better understand. It's possible that the areas on a property that receive a signal could be prohibited by the new zoning regulation, he said, because sometimes trees block satellite signal or a dish might get a signal in one position but not a few feet away from that spot.

That may limit or prevent homeowners from having a dish service.

"I support these rulings by the FCC completely,” he said  “I also support the effort to preserve Shelby County and keep it beautiful.

"However, the laws and regulations that are put forth must follow Federal Rule that is already established and passed by Congress in 1996."

On Tuesday he told the commission he had no problem with the guidelines for dishes that are greater than three feet in diameter, but the new guidelines for smaller dishes would severely affect dish services across the county - Internet or TV.

"I don't think people in Shelby County really understand the impact of this,” he said. “It goes beyond what I provide. It goes into DirectTV and Dish Network as well. Quite a few homes are going to be in violation."

Triple S Executive Director Ryan Libke said it is important for people to understand that the new regulation would not affect those who already have dishes, regardless of where they've been placed.

"This regulation, if it is adopted and forwarded on, would not require current satellite dishes to be removed from their properties,” he said. “Like any regulation, if something's there, it's grandfathered as you create new regulations."

If the new regulations are passed and a complaint is received on a dish in violation, Libke said the owner would need to provide proof of the dish's existence before the new rules were adopted.

When Hogg heard about the amendment, he sent an e-mail to his customers to inform them of the impact. An online petition was started a few days ago, and already more than 60 people have signed it.