On the ground or the roof, a dish is still a dish

For three years, Tim Frost resisted putting his $4,000 satellite dish on the roof of his Lutherville home, fearing it would be dangerous and more of an eyesore than it would be in his backyard.

Mr. Frost, a computer specialist who lives in the 1300 block of McPhereson Court, even filed suit against Baltimore County after officials refused to grant him a variance to keep the dish on the ground.


But last week, Tim Frost gave up. He had the satellite dish moved to the roof of his home to avoid a showdown with county lawyers.

And he couldn't be happier.


"The reception is perfect," he said, "In fact, I got [access to] an extra satellite. . . . I want to thank my neighbors. Without them, I wouldn't have this extra satellite."

Mr. Frost believes the whole dispute was unnecessary. In the fall of 1989, before the dish was installed, he says he got oral permission from two county zoning officials who told him he could place the dish on the ground next to his home and slightly behind it.

Soon after it was installed, several neighbors complained that the 15-foot-high, 10-foot-wide, jet-black antenna was an eyesore, since it faced Orthoridge Road.

The same county zoning officials who said the dish was OK where it was then ordered Mr. Frost to move it to his back yard or his roof.

In Baltimore County, zoning laws allow any homeowner to place a satellite dish on his roof. It's looked upon as a television antenna.

Mr. Frost resisted moving the dish. He felt he'd done everything by the book and shouldn't have to pay for a county mistake. He couldn't put the dish in the backyard, he said, because his house would block reception.

Likewise, if he put it on the roof, his reception would be blocked by a tree in his front yard (He's since had it chopped down at a cost of $500.)

And, Mr. Frost felt, the satellite dish would be a worse eyesore on the roof than on the ground beside his home. Some of his neighbors agreed.


Former Zoning Commissioner J. Robert Haines wrote in an April 1990 opinion that although the "aesthetic issues" of putting the dish on the roof were debatable, he couldn't prohibit it from being placed there.

But for Mr. Frost, that was a last resort. First, he had the dish lowered several feet and planted a small hedge around it, figuring it would one day be high enough to conceal the satellite dish from he neighbors.

But after being told that wasn't good enough, Mr. Frost decided to fight the county no longer. The dish is on the roof. Both he and the county have agreed to drop their suits against one another.