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Radio operator to fight for his towers

KENNESAW, Ga. -- He already moved once to build a larger antenna, but this time ham radio enthusiast Ritner Nesbitt is putting up a fight. 

After a complaint from a neighbor, Cobb County code enforcement cited Nesbitt earlier this year for the tallest of his four towers. He's since hired an attorney and filed for a permit which was rejected. 

The county said he should have applied for it when he built the 140 foot tower, because it was over 70 feet tall.

"I don't know what to think at this point, we've been here for a long time and had no complaints," Nesbitt said. "If this means my rights as a ham radio operator will be terminated in some way, I will fight it as far as I can take it."

Jodi Siciliano moved into a home next to Nesbitt in 2006. She says that was before he built the largest towers closer to her property. She called them eyesores.

"I think it looks like a tower that somebody's using to try to communicate with outer space," Siciliano said.

She said she filed the complaint to stop Nesbitt from continuing to expand his radio operation unchecked. She also said it's a safety concern.

"If it fell or a piece of it fell off, it could come down on my property and possibly hit a tree," Siciliano said. "Or if there are people in the driveway it could fall on them."

As was first reported by the Marietta Daily Journal, Nesbitt moved to Cobb County 20 years ago and built his house-and radio towers-up on a hill. When asked why he didn't get a permit when he built the towers, he pointed to a 1985 FCC opinion.

It states that local governments should provide leeway to amateur radio operators, because they are an asset in national emergencies when traditional communication lines are down.

Nesbitt called amateur radio the "backbone of US security;" but the grandfather and retired telecommunications worker also said it's a fun hobby he fell in love with as a teen. He even spoke to King Hussein of Jordan during one session.

"I didn't believe him when he said it, but then later I realized when I got older he really was the King of Jordan," Nesbitt said.

Monday morning he spoke with a friend in California who complimented the Falcons' performance Sunday. But he doesn't like thinking that the fun could end if the county commission denies his permit. They'll take up his application on October 16th.

"I'm not one for being in the lime light, unless I'm on my radio," Nesbitt said. "This, I'm not looking forward to."