Article Courtesy of WFTV
By Karla Ray
Published August 26, 2021
MARION COUNTY — A Marion County woman is taking on her neighborhood association,
in a matter she said puts her health at risk.
Michelle Smith, a Type
1 Diabetic, and a consultant determined that her neighbor’s
ham radio hobby might have interfered with the doses of
insulin being pushed out from her pump.
The 55+ community where she lives hired that consultant and
told the neighbor to shut down his amateur radio station.
But a copy of the community’s rules shows a change was put
in place that could pave the way for other similar antennas
to be installed.
9 Investigates learned that Smith’s complaint went all the
way to the state level.
She wants the Florida Commission on Human Relations to make
a determination whether the community’s board and management
is doing enough to protect her and others with medical
In the manicured subdivision of Indigo East near Ocala, managed by On Top Of
The World, two neighbors say they’ve thought of moving away from the
development’s amenities because of the ongoing dispute.
Smith has been in the back and forth with the community’s association for
more than a year after noticing the insulin pump she uses to manage her Type
1 Diabetes was suddenly giving the wrong amount of the medicine that keeps
“So I switched pumps, bought another one, switched reservoirs, threw insulin
away, did everything I knew of to troubleshoot,” she said.
After doing some research, she suspected the problem might be a few doors
down in equipment that is now unplugged and collecting dust.
David Birge was told to shut down his ham radio operation after On Top Of
The World hired an independent consultant to investigate Smith’s complaints.
That engineer determined the “amateur radio operator could have produced”
radio frequency levels that exceeded those Smith’s insulin pump is intended
to operate in.
“I’ve lost a hobby I’ve enjoyed more than half of my lifetime, and the
equipment sitting in my office is not plugged in,” Birge said.
Though his operation was shut down for now, the community’s board of
directors changed the wording in its rules and regulations to potentially
allow more of these amateur radios in the future -- changing the definition
of antenna allowed after approval from “a device used to receive” to one
that could also “transmit” radio frequency signals.
Smith said she requested a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing
Act to ensure no high frequency signals can be transmitted within 300 feet
of her home.
Because of that pending litigation, Indigo East’s manager told 9
Investigates that they could not comment.