Most often the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (also known as the “CCR’s,” “Declaration of Condominium,” “Restrictions,” or by other names) is the highest governing document within an association. Typically, the terms of this document cannot be waived without express authority. After all, the Declaration is a binding contract among the members of the Association.
Of course, language in the Declaration usually yields to express state statute or federal law. With that in mind, it is rather concerning to read House Resolution 4969 (“Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014”) introduced last month by Congressman Adam Kinzinger (16th District, Illinois). HR 4969 would rewrite the private contractual agreements between members in a community association to allow an owner to install a regular tower or antenna for amateur radio use, regardless of what the Declaration says about such structures. In addition, the proposed federal law would allow owners who wish such towers to get around the architectural review process and community guidelines that bind other owners for most any type of construction.
Now, I don’t have anything against amateur radio use. In addition to being a perfectly fine pastime, amateur radio users can perform valuable public service by assisting in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. However, it seems to me that if an individual enjoys amateur radio use and might want to install a radio tower for personal use, that perhaps a planned community or condominium with property restrictions might not be the best place to move. And, if someone with no history of radio use lives in a planned community and suddenly develops an interest in amateur radio use, they shouldn’t be allowed to simply ignore their contractual agreement with other owners to erect a radio tower in their yard. Since (I understand) that technology already exists to create small, powerful antenna for personal use that could be indoors or hardly noticeable, a bill that guts community association rules and architectural standards seems excessive.
Without exception, the leaders of community associations I have spoken with about this issue do not wish to have their private community agreements invalidated. In fact, most consider H.R. 4969 an inappropriate and unjustified pre-impression of state and private contracts.
FYI, I have written our state’s congressmen with my concerns and asking that they protect association rules and standards by opposing HR 4969. If you would like to learn more about the Amateur Radio Parity Act, visit CAI’s Call to Action page [link no longer active].