Radio station loses Point Roberts tower appeal

In a quick vote on Tuesday, Jan. 27, the Whatcom County Council upheld an earlier decision to deny a permit for 150-foot radio towers in Point Roberts.

Council voted 7-0 to affirm an Oct. 21 decision by the county hearing examiner to reject an application by BBC Broadcasting, Inc., to build five towers about 1,200 feet from the Canadian border. The hearing examiner ruled the towers violated a 45-foot height restriction in Point Roberts.

BBC Broadcasting, unrelated to the British network with a similar name, currently transmits Punjabi programming from towers outside Ferndale, to a mostly Canadian audience.

The council deliberated on its ruling behind closed doors shortly before its public vote. Per county code, the council took no public testimony.

“We were meeting with our lawyer to go through the legal issues involved in all the briefings that we got on that,” council Chairman Carl Weimer told a large crowd assembled at Tuesday’s meeting to hear the decision. “It was basically just a strict council review of the law and the rules, and whether the hearing examiner went through that process correctly.”

Attorneys for BBC Broadcasting didn’t respond to requests for comment.

John Lesow, a member of the Cross Border Coalition to Stop The Radio Towers, said opponents got the decision they expected. He said he also expects the relatively deep-pocketed BBC Broadcasting to appeal again, to Superior Court.

“Last night was just another battle in a long, long war,” Lesow said on Wednesday, Jan. 28. “That’s just the realistic way of looking at it. I would hope that it’s not because wars cost money.”

“We’ve been amazingly successful in our grassroots fundraising to fund the fight against these towers,” Lesow said, adding that the coalition has received maybe thousands of small donations from residents in Point Roberts and immediately across the border in Tsawwassen.

“The most challenging part of being on a board is fundraising but we’re ready to do that,” Lesow said.