In Hampstead, Red Light Glows On Radio Tower

December 18, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

HAMPSTEAD — A communications company reluctantly has complied with a county commissioner order to replace strobe lights on its WGRX-FM radio tower here, pleasing a small group of nearby residents who battled for the change for six years.

Shamrock Communications, based in Scranton, Pa., took almost the entire 180-day grace period granted by the commissioners before replacing the white strobes with a constant red light at night. Hampstead resident Sean Gibbons, who led the citizens group,said he noticed the change on Dec. 9.

"I'm glad it's over," said Gibbons. "We feel good about overcoming tremendous odds. We were just a group from the community concerned about our pursuit of happiness and enjoyment of our property."

Thecitizens group complained that the white strobes at night were "visual pollution," and Gibbons said the strobes hurt property values. Thestrobe lights are recommended by aviation experts and were installedto prevent aircraft accidents.

In 1987, the previous commissioners turned down the residents' request for a hearing on the matter. Butthe citizens group was able to get a hearing before the current board, and a 2-1 vote in their favor in June. Commissioner Julia W. Gouge, an incumbent, voted against the change.

Shamrock President William Lynett said he resents the commissioners' decision, but decided not to appeal because of potential legal costs. He said it cost about $40,000 to change the lights. "We decided to make (the residents) happy," he said.

He said the company had expected to win the case before the commissioners because strobe lights at night are safer for airtraffic and are commonly used. In making their decision, the commissioners said they were convinced that the constant red light was adequate.

Lynett called the decision a "political payback" because Gibbons was a campaign assistant for Commissioner President Donald I. Dell. "It doesn't speak well for doing business in Carroll County," he said. Dell said Gibbons' involvement in his campaign did not influencehis decision.

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