Residents on both sides of the Washington-British Columbia border are voicing concerns about a plan to erect five large AM towers. Whatcom County, WA is considering an application from BBC Broadcasting to construct the 150-foot towers at an undeveloped lot in Point Roberts, WA. The towers would transmit South Asian radio station KRPI-AM 1550, which broadcasts from studios in Richmond, B.C.
Currently broadcasting at 50,000 watts during the day using antenna located in Ferndale, WA, the company has already completed a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) checklist for the project to comply with the FCC, reports The Delta-Optimist. Several professional studies were completed, including a visual resources report that concluded the visual impact should be minimal. Another report states the towers do not appear to present a significant risk to birds.
The FCC last year granted a CP for the facility, but a conditional use a permit is still required from the county.
A report by the Whatcom County Planning and Development Services notes the department has reviewed the application for potential adverse impacts and expects to issue a “Determination of Non-Significance” for the project. A county hearing examiner must also give his stamp of approval following a public hearing.
A comment period, open only for residents on the U.S. side of the border, wrapped up last week.
Arthur Reber, a member of the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee, which organized a public meeting for concerned residents this week, told the Optimist there was little notification. He said many in the community only found out recently about the application.
“The mood of Point Roberts is, shall we say, the tar is boiling in the back and the folks with the feathers are plucking chickens to get ready for it. Others are building guillotines,” he said.
Noting the antennas have been problematic and hugely controversial in Ferndale, Reber said residents have many concerns, including the likelihood of the powerful signal wreaking havoc with other broadcast signals as well as electronic devices.
Reber noted broadcast facilities may be seen as a necessary utility, however, the proposed antennas are for a Canadian radio station serving the Lower Mainland, and thus that infrastructure should be located in Canada.
He said residents are planning a long fight, including a formal appeal to Whatcom County council if the application receives approval.