By Jessie Burchette
The N.C. Supreme Court has upheld a 2005 decision by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners to deny a permit for a 1,350-foot-tall broadcast tower in Mount Ulla.
The state Supreme Court has denied a petition from Davidson County Broadcasting Inc. of Lexington to review the Court of Appeals decision.
In September 2007, the Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision upholding the county’s action denying the permit because the tower would represent a hazard to pilots using a nearby private airstrip at Miller Air Park.
Because the decision by the Court of Appeals panel was unanimous, Davidson County Broadcasting did not have automatic right of appeal, but petitioned for a discretionary review.
The Charlotte firm of Parker Poe handled the case for the county.
An associate with that firm advised County Attorney Jay Dees of the Supreme Court decision in an e-mail.
Bobby Sullivan, the associate, wrote that because the case involves a question of federal law, Davidson County Broadcasting could petition the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari, or a request of the lower court for more information.
The deadline for the petition is Nov. 25.
The federal issue refers to Davidson Broadcasting’s contention that the Federal Aviation Administration pre-empted Rowan County’s authority when it issued a determination that the tower would not be a hazard.
The Court of Appeals ruled that federal regulations not only permit, but encourage this type of local regulation to maintain the safety of private-use airports.
Both Dees and Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, were out of town Friday and not available for comment.
Salisbury attorney Randy Reamer, who represented the Mount Ulla Historical Preservation Society, said his clients are delighted with the court ruling. “They hope they have seen the end of this,” Reamer said.
Regardless of further court action, the effort to locate a tower in western Rowan is apparently not dead.
A representative of a Charlotte-based consulting firm contacted the Post several weeks ago saying his firm had been contacted by Gig Hilton, president of Davidson Broadcasting, to get a tower built in Mount Ulla.
“We will be building a tower in Mount Ulla,” Lowell E. Homburger, executive vice president of Abernat, Roxben & Boggs told the Post.
Homburger said they planned to work with the county to offer a partnership that would allow the county to locate its emergency radio equipment, a plan that could save the county millions of dollars. Homburger said he had started preliminary talks with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.
Hilton did not return a call from the Post.
By Jessie Burchette