The Loudoun County, VA Board of Supervisors last week approved the application from Potomac Radio to build three AM radio towers in Ashburn—suburban DC. The proposal is designed to provide a way for WAGE radio to return to the airwaves. They have a CP for an upgrade, taking the station from 5 kw-D, 1 kw-N, DAN on 1200 kHz to 50 kw-D, 1.3 kw-N, DA2 on 1190 kHz.
“WAGE radio was a part of this community for a long time. I want to see it come back. This is our choice,” Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said. “This frequency is available. But if this goes away, Loudoun will not be able to get it back.”
Potomac Radio, which ceased transmitting WAGE Radio from its Leesburg, VA headquarters in 2009, is seeking permission to establish an AM radio transmitter on a 7.5-acre leased property. The site is owned by Loudoun Water, reports Leesburg Today.
The station would consist of three 195-foot self-supporting lattice towers with a buried grounding system of 120 equally spaced copper wires extending in 200-foot radius around each tower. A 20-foot by 25-foot transmitter building, satellite dishes and auxiliary generator with an above-ground natural gas tank will be located in proximity to antenna arrays near an existing gravel road. The proposal would require ground-disturbing activities within the floodplain as well as the removal of approximately two acres of forest cover.
As one of the two opponents of the project, Supervisor Kelly Burk (D-Leesburg) reminded supervisors that, while a Loudoun radio station would be an asset to the community, “this is a land use issue.”
“We are looking at ordinances in place that would deal with the Chesapeake Bay, that would say that people would not be able to put a building within 100 feet of the stream, and yet here we’re allowing them to build three towers in the floodplain,” she said. “I think we are setting up a precedent here and I think it’s a dangerous one.”
While development in the floodplain is not supported in the county’s General Plan, the county’s 1972 Zoning Ordinance, which applies to the property, permit utilities, including radio towers, in floodplains with special exception from supervisors. Staff members also noted there are buildings and projects that have been allowed in the floodplain prior to the Potomac Radio application.