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Judge rejects appeal over radio towers

Residents claim victory in U.S. court

Wednesday brought another victory for residents on both sides of the border fighting a proposal to erect radio transmission towers in Point Roberts.

A Skagit County Superior Court judge dismissed an appeal by BBC Broadcasting Inc. to overturn a decision by Whatcom County to reject the company's application to erect five 45-metre (150-foot) steel towers at an undeveloped lot on McKenzie Way, about 330 metres from the Tsawwassen border. It was rejected because the towers exceeded height limits in the American peninsula.

The company filed an appeal, arguing the antenna would be a utility that would provide "vital public services" for Point Roberts.

The towers would have transmitted South Asian radio station KRPI, AM 1550, which broadcasts from studios in Richmond for a Lower Mainland audience. Also known as Sher-E-Punjab AM 1550, the station currently broadcasts using antenna in Ferndale, but wanted to relocate them for a stronger all-day signal.

Concerned about electrical interference and health impacts, residents on both sides of the border have been fighting on several fronts for more than two years, including arguing the application

approved by the FCC was fraudulent because a map submitted by the applicant left out Tsawwassen. Residents also gathered a petition with thousands of signatures asking Ottawa to intervene. A liaison for MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay and the Cross Border Coalition, Tsawwassen resident Ulf Ottho attended Wednesday's court proceeding on behalf of the MP, along with roughly 50 members of the coalition as well as Corporation of Delta staff.

Ottho said the judge immediately issued her ruling after the submissions, listing several reasons to uphold the Whatcom County decision, including the fact there are alternative sites available in Whatcom County that don't have height restrictions.

Ottho noted the company has 30 days to appeal but in his view the decision was carefully explained and is "appeal proof."

In an e-mail to the Optimist, an elated Jim Ronback with the coalition

said the judge's decision was thorough and decisive on all counts, not likely to be appealed by the proponent.

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington said she was ecstatic for the coalition, adding it may be an historic moment.

"The members have managed to do what is normally impossible: win against the powers that be by engaging in hard work and excellent analysis. And I thank all the members of the public who helped in the fundraising: very expensive lawyers

were hired to help win this battle," she said.

The coalition's Nancy Beaton said they moved one step closer to preventing the towers.

"There was no one magic pill or strategy that created this success, but lots of little items and actions by dedicated individuals and

supporters that when added together made us victorious against this onerous injustice. Another huge relief, to say the least," Beaton said.

Ronback and Beaton added help is still needed to help pay for the enormous amount spent on legal fees. For more information, visit