By Meg Olson
Members of the Cross Border Coalition to Stop the Towers are celebrating what they hope is the end of their long battle to stop the construction of a radio tower farm on the Point.
“This is great news!” said Mark Robbins, a coalition member and president of the Point Roberts Taxpayers Association.
In a declaration filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) November 12, 2015, BBC Broadcasting Inc. president Bagh Singh Khela stated the company did not intend to continue its appeal of Whatcom County’s refusal to allow the project to go ahead.
On October 7 a superior court judge in Skagit County upheld the decision by the Whatcom County Hearing Examiner to deny BBC’s application for a conditional use permit (CUP) to build an array of five 150’ radio towers on the corner of Tyee Drive and McKenzie Way. The hearing examiner’s decision hinged on height restrictions, and the lack of county code that would exempt a radio tower from those restrictions. The company has until November 30 to appeal that decision.
“In theory, they could still change their mind but this looks pretty final to me,” Robbins said.
The declaration was filed as part of supplemental information the company submitted in support of their application to renew its FCC broadcast license. The renewal has been pending since 2013, faced with a formal objection filed by the Point Roberts Taxpayers’ Association and several informal objections from opponents of the project.
BBC Broadcasting is asking for “dismissal of all petitions to deny and informal objections” to its license so that it can continue to operate the Punjabi radio station KRPI from its current location in Ferndale.
“Attorneys to the radio station have complained we’re pursuing this as a back door to oppose their construction permit (which was approved by the FCC in 2009),” Robbins said. “Our argument is, they are separate issues. The connection is that in our investigation to oppose the construction permit and the CUP we found information that their broadcast license shouldn’t be renewed.”
There are two arguments in the taxpayers’ association’s petition to deny the license. “We feel they have been essentially alien-controlled,” Robbins said, referring to the Canadian station Sher-E-Punjab. “There’s ample evidence they still are.”
In addition, “They have demonstrated a lack of candor” in their submissions to the FCC and the county, Robbins said. For example, engineering documents did not acknowledge the existence of Tsawwassen on the other side of the border, indicating that the closest town was Ladner.
“We believe they should not be entitled to a license,” Robbins said. “We share the radio station’s view the issue of the license renewal should be resolved, but we stand by our objections.”