County Denies Tower Extension
American Tower will not be allowed to extend an existing monopole tower by 35 feet at the Monroetown site off U.S. 15-501.
The Moore County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday night to deny a rezoning request by the wireless communications tower company to build an addition to the 195-foot tower to extend Alltel coverage without building another tower in a new location.
The board discussed the request at an earlier meeting but tabled the matter for further study.
At the Monday meeting, Planning Director Joey Raczkowski recommended denial of the request on the basis of additional in-depth study he had undertaken since the previous meeting.
American Tower had asked the county to change the zoning from Rural Agricultural-2 to RA-Conditional-Use District to allow the tower extension. However, the tower ordinance restricts height because lights are required on towers taller than 200 feet.
Raczkowski described the tower as "an existing nonconforming cell tower of 195 feet." He said the applicant wants to add 35 feet to a non-conforming tower.
He said that mitigation terms do not apply in this case.
"By ordinance standards, mitigation occurs when the overall total number of towers is reduced, an existing tower is replaced with a less visually obtrusive tower, or an existing tower is replaced with a new tower to improve network functionality," Raczkowski said. "None of these options are occurring in this case."
His review of the monopole tower situation in Moore County disclosed that five of the seven monopole cell tower structures are located along fringe areas of incorporated jurisdictions, including the Monroetown site. Six of the seven towers are adjacent to major highway corridors.
Raczkowski said five of the towers appear to be nonconforming because of zoning or height restrictions. None of these towers exceeds 199 feet in height.
Because the request was for a conditional-use district permit, the commissioners conducted a quasi-judicial public hearing in which speakers become witnesses and must take an oath of truthfulness, much as occurs in the courtroom.
In addition to Raczykowski, the only speakers were Jill House, an engineer and project manager for the applicant, and Rick Edwards, the consultant who assists the county with cell tower issues. No one from the general public asked to speak for or against the change.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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