Doppler Debate Develops

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In Avon, Connecticut, television station WFSB-TV is expected to sue the local planning and zoning commission for rejecting plans to place a Doppler weather radar system on top of Avon Mountain. At the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in May, Meredith Corporation doing business as WFSB-TV, owner/applicant, requested Site Plan Approval to replace a communications tower and add a Doppler Radar weather system to Avon Mountain. After months of deliberation, the council voted 6-1 to reject the proposal. The Hartford Courant reported, “Commission members said the radar system would be out of character with the residential neighborhood on Avon Mountain, and cited the potential for health impacts and also the proposed commercial use of the property. The radar would be a non-conforming use under the zoning designation for the surrounding area and could be allowed only in certain circumstances, which commission members said had not been met.” WFBS wants to install the Doppler radar on the land they own on top Avon Mountain, where a communications tower currently resides. This radar would replace the station’s existing facility at Bradley International Airport. WFSB had a Doppler system atop the mountain until the 1970s. “At meetings this spring, station officials insisted that radiation from the radar pose no threat to residents and that any exposure to radiation would be well below the federal permitted level,” the Hartford Courant reported. The Telecommunication Acts of 1996 prohibits local government from denying a request based on “potential health risk,” so the TV station has a pretty good case.

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