WFUV's half-finished tower as seen from the neighboring gardens. (Photo: New York Botanical Garden.)
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Court gives WFUV fifth victory for its tower plan

Originally published in Current, April 20, 1998

New York state's highest court early this month unanimously upheld WFUV-FM's right to complete the radio tower on Fordham University's Bronx campus, despite complaints from the nearby New York Botanical Garden that the tower spoils the skyline.

This was the fifth victory in various adminstrative and court appeals. For nearly four years the tower has remained half-built. The ruling by the New York State Court of Appeals upheld a local zoning ruling that permitted the tower. Remaining federal historic issues are being mediated between the university and the botanical garden.

Earlier story
Make it shorter and hang flags from it

Originally published in Current, Nov. 11, 1996

The New York Botanical Garden, still fighting the completion of a nearby 480-foot tower for WFUV-FM, told the FCC late in October that the station should disguise the antenna as a 185-foot double flagpole. In its reply to the commission, WFUV said the notion was "without technical or practical merit" and asked for approval of its construction permit.

The botanists are "trying to sidetrack the commission" and extend the two-and-a-half-year delay, says Ralph Jennings, g.m. Before proposing the double flagpole, the garden had suggested a stone tower to hold the antenna, but it was not feasible, he says. "All these things would be pretty, but they're about 200 feet high, which is no higher than what we've got now."

The garden hired Washington engineers Cohen, Dippell and Everist to work with architects, who came up with the flagpole design, and commended the idea to other communities where stark towers are planned.

The garden also accused WFUV of lack of candor, suggesting that it really wants the tall tower, now half-built, to provide rental space for commercial antennas. Jennings says WFUV has "no plan to do anything commercial with the tower."

Still earlier story
Nothing’s easy in the Bronx, where botanists are tough

Originally published in Current, July 8, 1996

Fordham University's WFUV has withstood for the third time a neighbor's challenge to its plan to complete a 480-foot transmitting tower on its Bronx campus.

The state Supreme Court in Manhattan upheld June 12 [1996] previous rulings of New York City's Buildings Department and its Board of Standards and Appeals, which accepted the tower as a valid accessory use of the university.

But many obstacles remain. The neighboring New York Botanical Garden, which opposes the tower as a blight on its horizon, expects to appeal the court ruling and points out that the city zoning regulators still want Fordham to move the half-built tower 25 feet to make it legal, and that the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to approve the tower.

Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam dissed the garden's esthetic argument. The "outcry'' by the botanical garden "is simply not justified,'' she wrote. "No suggestion is to be found that petitioner will suffer any significant economic harm. Indeed, there is no perceivable injury unless it is some unredressable, speculative and unspecified chimera lost in the multiple variants of esthetics.''

Web page posted May 29, 2004
The newspaper about public TV and radio
in the United States
Current Publishing Committee, Takoma Park, Md.
Copyright 2004


Federal agency stops its First Amendment objection and aids tower construction, but botanical garden has already stopped construction midway, 1996.


Dispute with botanical garden may be resolved as hospital offers tower site, 2004.


Text of 1998 state court opinion.


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