With the advent of relatively cheap and accessible television source options such as Verizon’s FiOS TV, Cablevision’s Optimum and Comcast’s Xfinity, it might surprise some to hear that the seemingly antiquated satellite dish is still a mainstay in New England’s multifamily buildings. Trendy as they might be, dishes come with aesthetic and safety concerns from residents, boards and management companies alike.
Cell phone towers are the next tech accessory to become increasingly prevalent in multifamily buildings. Gone are the days when they simply signified increased coverage, communication abilities and the end of the dreaded dropped call. Tower sites can now serve as an additional source of income to buildings that lease out property space to cell companies. While the added income is highly beneficial to associations, cell sites can pose structural threats if not installed/maintained properly, or worse, leave associations trapped in an unfair lease.
The number of clunky dishes peppered atop East Boston homes grew at such an overwhelming rate within the past few years that local politicians deemed them a threat to the neighborhood’s integrity.
East Boston City Council Member Salvatore LaMattina led an effort to implement a satellite dish control ordinance in 2012. The ordinance, which was supported by former Mayor Thomas Menino, “would require the removal of all out-of-use satellite dishes. It would also ban new installations from facades and other walls that face the street, unless an installer can prove there is no other place or way to get a signal. Dishes would have to be placed on roofs, in the rear, or on the sides of buildings,” as reported by The Boston Globe.
Ultimately, the ordinance was blocked by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for being in violation of the entity’s rules for Over-the-Air-Reception-Devices (OTARD), which were adopted in 1996. According to the FCC, OTARD rules prohibit restrictions on a property owner or tenant’s right to install, maintain or use an antenna to receive video programming from direct broadcast satellites, broadband radio services and television broadcast stations. The rules apply specifically to dishes that are one meter or less in diameter and used to receive direct broadcast services.