The Prince George's County Council yesterday enacted controls on the construction and placement of television satellite dish antennas.
Only dishes smaller than 10 feet in diameter will be permitted to serve a single dwelling unit unless the owner can prove that a larger one is needed. The council also passed a separate bill that will require a dish owner to obtain a building permit, ranging in cost from $20 for residential users to $75 for commercial users.
There was no comment made at the public hearing held before yesterday's vote, but council member Sue V. Mills said that the county should not grant such permits to residents who live in communities where additions to their homes are regulated privately.
"We do not enforce private covenants, but we cannot ignore private covenants either," said Mills, adding that she had received a complaint about the apparent inconsistency from a resident of the Highland Meadows subdivision in the southern part of the county.
By granting building permits in such areas, Mills said, the county is giving its tacit approval for a homeowner to violate the regulations that already exist for the property.
The council rejected Mills' argument and passed the new laws 8 to 1. "Leave well enough alone," council member Richard J. Castaldi said. "It's not a problem."
Satellite dish industry representatives, who had argued against the proposed regulation at a previous work session, said they were not notified of yesterday's hearing. Harold Haley, general manager of Davis Antenna in Waldorf, said he is particularly upset with a portion of the new law that requires electrical permits for dish installers.
The council, meeting in closed session, also agreed to ask Circuit Court Judge James Magruder Rea for a clearer interpretation of his ruling last week roundly criticizing a council decision that denied two-thirds of the rezoning requested for the Konterra minicity.
Associate County Attorney Steven M. Gilbert said that Rea's eight-page opinion left unclear whether the council is to schedule new hearings on the case or whether his decision constituted an automatic rezoning of the 970 acres that were not approved last year.
"The attorneys are not clear exactly what he was saying," said council Chairman William Amonett. The council has until Nov. 28 to appeal the judge's decision, a deadline that can now be extended pending any action that Rea takes in response to the request for clarification.
In the final paragraph of his order, Rea ordered the council to reconsider its decision to grant rezoning to mixed-use category to only 488 acres of Konterra. It also said the council should take "action in line with the above opinion and order of court," which found in part that the council did not have sufficient reason to grant part of the rezoning and deny the rest.
In other business, the council approved a request by the company that holds the cable television franchise for the southern portion of the county to reduce its basic subscriber rate from $4.95 to $2.45 for service that includes certain satellite stations.
Manerva Riddick, the operations manager for Metrovision, said the company is eliminating an intermediate tier of service that cost $4.95 a month because it failed to attract enough subscribers.