A Baltimore Circuit Court judge has upheld a city zoning board decision that denied a Northeast Baltimore man's request to install a satellite dish in his back yard.
Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman said yesterday the zoning board was within its authority to deny Donald F. Esslinger's request for a conditional-use permit to erect the television satellite dish because of aesthetics. The judge ruled in the case on Wednesday.
Last summer the zoning board denied Mr. Esslinger's request for a permit -- his third request in six years.
The board cited complaints from neighbors in the 2700 block of Bauernwood Ave. who said the dish was "an eyesore" and "unsightly."
The board found that the dish was "an intrusion into the peaceful enjoyment of the nearby residents' homes."
In his appeal, Mr. Esslinger, 71, had argued that the city ordinance sets up different standards for the installation of satellite dishes and television antennae and therefore that it discriminates against certain kinds of satellite dishes.
Federal law prohibits such discriminations, Anthony P. Palaigos, Mr. Esslinger's attorney, argued to the court.
Mr. Esslinger also maintained that his constitutional right to erect a satellite dish had been violated. Judge Hammerman rejected all his arguments.
Neighbors along Bauernwood Avenue have consistently opposed a permit for Mr. Esslinger, an amateur ham radio operator who has a 40-foot radio antenna.
Several complained that Mr. Esslinger's radio broadcasts interfered with their telephones, television sets, video recorders and even baby monitors.
They said Mr. Esslinger's voice sometimes could be heard on their equipment during his broadcasts.
The neighbors also contended that the interference intensified when Mr. Esslinger illegally put up a satellite dish in 1986.
Since Mr. Esslinger was ordered to remove the dish later that year, neighbors said interference on their electronic equipment had decreased significantly.
Mr. Esslinger argued that there was no relationship between his ham radio broadcasts and the satellite dish.
Neighbors said they wouldn't object to Mr. Esslinger's installing a smaller aluminum dish or one made of wire mesh, which is more aesthetically pleasing, said Ron Vichich, a neighbor.
Mr. Esslinger's attorney, Mr. Palaigos, said his client had not yet decided whether to appeal the judge's decision.