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Neighbors’ Complaints Compel Fairbanks Broadcaster to Halt Tower Project in Delta


A Fairbanks broadcasting company’s plan to build a television-translator tower in Delta Junction is on hold now that residents of the area where it would be built say they don’t want it in their neighborhood. They say they weren’t told of the project, and that it shouldn’t be built in a residential area.

Tanana Valley Television president Bill St. Pierre says he regrets that residents of the Sweeney View Ridge subdivision in Delta weren’t aware of his plan to build a 120-foot tower and structure in their area. And that when they finally heard about it, they objected to where St. Pierre had proposed to build it.

But he says given residents’ outcry over the project, like those shared during last week’s Delta City Council meeting, he now realizes those efforts fell short. And so, he’s decided to halt the project.

“I’m not going to be a bad neighbor,” St. Pierre said. “I don’t like people being a bad neighbor to me.”

The tower would enable Tanana Valley Television to move its present translator facility on Army-administered land near Donnelly Dome, about 20 miles south of Delta, into an area that’s less remote and better situated to receive digital television signals from Fairbanks and then rebroadcast them around the Delta area.

Digital over-the-air broadcasts by Tanana Valley TV aren’t available right now in Delta. The company broadcasts programs from Fairbanks’ Fox- and CBS-network affiliates. And St. Pierre says KTVF, the NBC affiliate, also would be using the tower.

Tanana Valley TV has for years been re-broadcasting that programming in analog format to accommodate Delta-area residents who still use older analog TVs.

St. Pierre says he wants to build the new tower as part of his plan to comply with a federally mandated Sept. 1st, 2015 deadline to convert translator signals from analog to digital.

He thought Delta residents would welcome the idea.

“I guess I thought that we had more of – that people were excited about it,” he said.

John Sloan is one of the Sweeney View Ridge property owners who objected to the tower – and who does believe St. Pierre’s project would benefit Delta.

“Somebody coming into Delta and wanting to improve our TV reception, or improve any other kind of communication – I applaud that,” he said.    

But Sloan says his and other residents’ objections aren’t just due to a not-in-my-backyard mentality. The issue is covenants attached to all subdivision residents’ deeds. The covenants are intended to protect the area’s property values from decreasing due to a nonresidential use – like operating a broadcasting facility.

“I know I bought my piece of land over 30 years ago, signed onto those covenants, and believed that those covenants were in place to protect not only me as a landowner, but other landowners from me.”

Sloan says he’s encouraged St. Peter to look elsewhere around Delta for a suitable place for his tower. And he’s offered to help him find that place.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.