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Ogdensburg Rescue Squad antenna too high to comply with city code

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Atop the new Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad building at 1223 Pickering St. is a 70-foot-high radio antenna tower.

A radio antenna is a necessity for the squad, but its height is in violation of the city code.

While both city and squad officials agreed Wednesday that the violation was accidentally overlooked when the squad’s building plans were approved by the city, the tower is still illegal. A meeting Tuesday of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to decide whether to grant the squad a variance may settle the issue.

“We’re going to get it resolved,” said Kenneth J. Gardner, the squad’s director of operations. “We’re working with city.”

According to the city code, antenna towers in a business district can rise no higher than 48 feet, 22 feet less than the height of the squad’s tower. Mr. Gardner said the squad’s revised set of site plans for the new building called for a 48-foot-high metal structure that, to him, was in accordance with code regulations.

The problem was that the antenna wasn’t included as part of the metal structure.

“It was an oversight,” Mr. Gardner said, explaining the squad’s decision to go ahead with the installation. “We thought we were all set.”

City Code Enforcement Officer Gregg A. Mallette said he could understand how the squad could have had the radio tower installed not knowing it was in violation of city code.

“In layman’s terms, they put the cart before the horse,” he said.

The squad’s $1.6 million renovation of the former Hacketts Hardware building was scheduled to be completed by last week. But a delay in the delivery of a generator to provide backup power the building has pushed completion of contractors’ work back to mid-April.

Renovations began in November.

The squad, currently located at 101 State St., plans to use about 24,000 square feet of the 59,925-square-foot building. The rest will be left for rent and future squad expansion.

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