Verizon tower denied by Columbia County Commission [telecom]

I'm passing this along because, although this particular instance is a local matter, I wonder if the U.S. is getting to a tipping point vis-a-vis cell towers and citizens' tolerance of urban clutter.

- - - - A wireless tower was recently denied by Columbia County Commission in an area that's rapidly growing.

Back in July Verizon Wireless made a request to build a cell phone tower, off William Few Parkway in Columbia County. The Columbia County Commission unanimously voted against it Tuesday.

When asked why, Commission Chair Ron Cross said there were two main concerns.

"They said the fall zone was fine for 110-foot tower but they requested a hundred-and-sixty foot tower, which the fall zone is not safe for that...And we do realize we need to take some action on our height ordinance and maybe extend it to a hundred and fifty feet but the location was the main concern we are not comfortable having a tower that close to a residential area," Cross said.

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Reply to
Bill Horne
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Neither yr post nor the link makes it clear in what state Columbia County is located.

Reply to
Julian Thomas

In article you write:

The fall zone issue is entirely normal -- free standing towers always should have enough clear space around them that they won't hit something if the guy wires fail and they fall over. The residential area thing is a non-starter under Federal law.

Sounds to me like if Verizon hadn't cheaped out, and had applied for two or three 110 foot towers instead, which would probably provide better coverage, they'd have had no problem.

R's, John

***** Moderator's Note *****

"Pencil drop" tower standards are often ignored by municipalities, as was the case with some existing towers owned by the county involved in /this/ case. Since they enjoy sovereign immunity, they get to ignore the rules, but I digress.

Of course, there's a concern about fall damage, but there's /also/ a concern about proper cellphone operation. Balancing (no pun intended) tower height and possible risk against the need to serve cellular users at reasonable cost is a normal function of government, but I get a feeling that some towers are more equal than others.

Are developers moving to make "no tower zones" a marketing feature?

Bill Horne Moderator

Reply to
John Levine

As I understand it, free standing towers never fail due to guy wires, although guyed towers do. ;-)

It is not uncommon for municipalities to ban towers in residential areas. Here in New England, we have almost no cell phone towers. For the most part cells are put into the steeples of churches, some of them still in use and other buildings being former churches now recycled as offices or apartments. Those are the high sites.

There are also some rooftop antennas on commercial buildings. But rarely with any elevation. This strikes me as a classic example of where the obvious things town burghers do in the name of safety are in fact unsafe. If the antenna were higher up, say 20 feet above the building, the field strength in the building would be much lower. But "towers" scare folks, so the antenna ends up one foot above the roof, or on the side walls, which is of course likely to put more energy where the people are.

A few years ago American Tower wanted to replace a ~50-year-old

1000-foot TV tower. The new one would be 100 feet higher. They got resistance from locals who thought that the higher tower would put more radiation into the city. Idiotic on two grounds. One is that the higher tower keeps the ground-level radiation down. Two is that broadcast station power is calculated to reach a given distance, so a higher tower means lower transmitter power.

That would be less visible, though more costly, and of course have more energy on the ground. Not that a 100-foot cell tower puts much power on the ground; any tower is far better than a rooftop.

Reply to
Fred Goldstein

The FCC rules address this issue.

The following page generally describes "Tower and Antenna Siting":

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This page reads, in relevant part: | Section 332(c)(7) of the Communications Act preserves state and | local authority over zoning and land use decisions for personal | wireless service facilities, but sets forth specific | limitations on that authority. Specifically, a state or local | government may not unreasonably discriminate among providers of | functionally equivalent services, may not regulate in a manner | that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the provision | of personal wireless services...

So is the Columbia County board attempting to "regulate in a manner that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services?

If so, it seem to me that Verizon has a strong case for an appeal to the FCC.

Neal McLain

Reply to
Neal McLain

Neighbors do not like cell towers and have been opposing them for years. But generally, the carriers claim that Federal rules granting them the right to erect towers exceed local ordinances preventing them. In our town, they were able put up a big tower for that reason; a tower the locals didn't want.

One advantage the carriers have is that do this for a living, and know the laws backwards and forwards, plus have good lawyers on staff. A small municipality isn't familiar with federal rules nor has the legal horsepower. Often they do not know what other towns have done to prevent or least ameliorate a tower's impact.

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