After hearing emotional testimony from only 14 CB enthusiasts, the Rockville City Council this week withdrew a plan to regulate the height of radio and television towers and antennas.
An estimated 100 CB and ham radio operators packed into the Rockville City Hall council chambers, overflowing into the adjoining lobby, to await their turn to protest. Shortened towers and antennas, they said, would reduce radio service immeasurably.
Some came with horror stories of highway accidents. Others came with gimmicks such as CB demonstrations and a film. Handicapped citizens told of how their lives had been saved by CB radios. Still others yielded their three-minute time slots to more eloquent speakers. Each speed won deafening applause from the audience.
After 1 1/2 hours of testimony, the council withdrew the proposal to amend the Rockville Zoning and Planning Ordinance. Only one person spoke in favor of the amendment. The plan would have required towers and antennas to be located no closer property lines than the height of the structure. Antennas usually range from 20 to 50 feet and can extend no higher than 60 feet, according to federal regulations. Many emergency radio operators said antennas under 25 feet serve little purpose.
The City Council and Planning Commission drafted the amendment after discovering a ham radio tower had fallen last during a rainstorm.
Councilwoman Phyllis B. Fordham, who presided over the City Council meeting in Mayor William E. Hanna Jr.'s absence, said the council was willing to stay past 4 a.m. to hear testimony. However, Fordham withdrew the ordinance amendment at 10:25 p.m. because of "overwhelming response against the ordinance. It seemed futile to stay here any longer," she said.
"Quite honestly, I wasn't totally committed to it," Fordham said.
Judith Honeywell, an avid CB fan, said the council "we didn't have leg to stand on." Honeywell, who was No. 23 on the list to testify, said she had just bought CB equipment valued at $1,300 and was not about to let the council put it to waste.