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In a split decision Wednesday evening, the Planning and Zoning Commission denied a special use permit that would have allowed KRSN AM 1490 to place a 1,000 watt radio antenna in Loma Linda Park.
The 170-foot tall antenna would have enhanced the station’s ability to broadcast in Los Alamos at night.
Commissioner Fran Berting recused herself from the vote, leaving seven commissioners to hear the issue.
Well into the four hour meeting in council chambers, Chair Patrick Sullivan suddenly received an emergency phone call and quickly exited the room.
Silence filled the chamber as county staff member Anita Barela called the roll of the remaining six commissioners.
Commissioners Maria Wolfe, Ann Nobile and David Sherrill voted that KRSN’s request did not meet the criteria to grant a special use permit.
Commissioners Fred Roach, Pete Sheehey, who took over the meeting when Sullivan left, and Greg Kendall voted that the request did meet the criteria.
KRSN owners David and Gillian Sutton appeared stunned when Community Development Director Rick Bohn explained that the tie vote meant the motion failed.
KRSN is currently operating its tower out of White Rock, which is in non-compliance with FCC regulations that state the station’s tower must be located in Los Alamos.
A couple of audience members speaking in favor of the Suttons’ request for the special use permit told commissioners if they didn’t pass the motion, KRSN would most likely have to shut down.
The Suttons deferred comment until this morning as to whether the commission’s decision will force them to shut down the community’s only radio station.
“It was unfortunate that the full house of KRSN supporters were not allowed to speak because they were not a part of the ‘five criteria specified by the county code section 16- 156’,” the Suttons said this morning in a written statement. “KRSN AM 1490 involves the whole community and not just the approximately 20 families of the Loma Linda subdivision who complained at the Planning and Zoning meeting.
“The Loma Linda subdivision has put the future of KRSN in jeopardy. If they are not against the community radio station, they should spend their energy together to find a spot for our antenna.
“Since we could not find a better spot in the last three-and-a-half years, we challenge them to find a spot for the antenna. It is so easy to say – ‘Not in my back yard’ – so find an antenna site for the community radio station.
“We will be closing our doors in 18 months if we do not find a location on which to erect the antenna, which will satisfy FCC, FAA, NNSA and our listening public. We may close the station down sooner – we are appealing the decision to the Los Alamos County Counci,” they said.