Radio tower group petitions to rezone property

Apr. 5—Blessed Beginnings Broadcasting Inc. (BBB) is looking to expand its Indiana footprint by purchasing 75 acres, which is currently zoned as agricultural, and rezone the area for commercial use. The land in question is at 6630 S. 200 E., Lebanon.

BBB, which is headquartered in Warsaw, is looking to replace the former Whitestown radio towers that housed WFNI 1070 AM, which broadcasted in the Indianapolis area for more than 55 years. If the proposed towers are approved and built, they would join only 32 remaining 50KW (Kilowatt) radio stations in the United States.

The company also owns offices and studios in Fort Wayne.

At the end of February, Town of Zionsville Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) received an application from Rick Lawrence, an attorney from Nelson and Frankenburger, LLC, seeking a special exemption and new variance on behalf of BBB to rezone the land. The proposed property investment would be the new home to six 200-foot tall AM radio towers.

The property BBB is looking to acquire is adjacent to land that is owned by BBB President Brian Walsh's brother-in-law. His mother currently lives on that property.

Walsh said the Crow Family Farm currently has a land lease with BBB to use the land. He said the Crows would still utilize the farmland around the proposed area.

Documents included in the application petition that the proposed height would not require the addition of warning lights. All six of the towers would be connected to a control building that would house transmitters, a phasor, a generator and other support equipment.

If everything is approved, Walsh said the towers would be completed in 2023, pending various agencies and paperwork. He added that the music on the station will be oldies, which is also what their Wabash station broadcasts.

If all goes to plan, Walsh said the station will simulcast its morning show but everything else on the station will originate out of Indianapolis. Walsh said his current stations provide a lot of local coverage to the Warsaw and Fort Wayne areas.

"It's pretty unique and it's a big responsibility to be that local," Walsh said.

Walsh said he plans on adding local news coverage, along with local sports.

"That's how we come in," he said. "We're serious. We don't just come in and put a few songs on the air, shut the lights off and walk out the door."

He said he wants to be transparent with the current residents around the petitioned property and adds that he has an open door policy.

Since the public caught wind of the proposed project, a Facebook group called, "No 1070 Towers!" has been created. The group says they are neighbors who oppose the resurrection of the station transmission site.

The BZA issued a finding of fact statement along with the petition stating that the "proposed use will not be injurious to the public health, safety, comfort, community moral standards, convenience or general welfare."

Tony Carrell, who lives in the area and will be out of town during the public hearing, provided a written comment in response to the petition.

"I fully understand, appreciate and respect property owner rights and defend a property owner's decision to profit from the sale or lease of their land," Carrell wrote. "In this instance, if the proposed petition is granted, it will forever change the landscape and potential use of surrounding land well into the future."

Carrell said he and his family have lived in the area since the 1980s and they knew that at some point, they would become part of the urban sprawl of Indianapolis.

Another written statement was submitted to the town from Alex Roman of AR Broadcasting Technology who said he is familiar with the operation of the 1070 AM frequency in Indiana and has experience with this type of station.

Roman's letter outlines his experience with radio towers and that the proposed towers would operate at a 'very low frequency' compared to others.

"In my experience, interference by AM transmitters to other services is a very uncommon issue, mainly because there are very few other devices that operate in a similar frequency range to AM transmission," Roman wrote. "Everything from garage door openers to television sets operate spectrally distant from the AM band."

Roman says that from his time maintaining WABC, from 2007 to 2011, and from maintaining WLIB from 2014 to now, he has received no complaints of interference to consumer devices whatsoever. He said the station he used to maintain was adjacent to a densely populated residential neighborhood.

According to the {span}American Cancer Society{/span}, (ACS) the organization "does not have any official position or statement on whether or not radio frequency radiation from cell phones, cell phone towers or other sources is a cause of cancer."

Their release on the matter also states that other health organization have found there is insufficient evidence to support a casual association between radio frequency radiation exposure and tumor formation.

There is a public hearing, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 6 at Zionsville Town Hall, 1100 W. Oak St., to discuss the petition. Written comments in support of or against the petition must be filed with the secretary of the BZA prior to the hearing in order to be heard during the meeting.