PTC to require cell tower ‘balloon test’?

Peachtree City’s proposed new cell tower regulations were not ready as planned for Monday night’s Planning Commission meeting.

The proposal is certainly “much more intense than what’s on the books today,” Rast said.

The city would require wireless companies to document their need, conduct a “balloon test” and also undergo a “visual impact assessment,” Rast explained.

Balloon tests involve raising a large balloon to the proposed height of the antenna to give a better idea of how the tower would fit in with its surroundings.

“There’s just a plethora of information we will be requesting as far as documentation,” Rast said.

The ordinance was expected to be finalized in the next few days so it can be forwarded to planning commissioners for review.

Under the city’s current ordinance there are precious few cell tower sites in the seven mostly residential areas where new ones are needed. Those areas were identified by three cellphone companies: AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

Of the available sites, most are owned by either the city or the Fayette County Board of Education. There are also opportunities for perhaps two new towers to be built on the Flat Creek Golf Course.

All towers must be at least 200 feet away from any adjacent residential property and any roads; they also must be at least 50 feet from all non-residential property.

Under current city ordinances, towers can only be built on property zoned general industrial, light industrial, open space or agriculture reserve.

The city has reached out to the cellphone companies in an effort to determine instances where companies can co-locate on new towers. The companies have indicated they want to build monopole towers instead of the traditional lattice-type towers.

The new towers would be no higher than 200 feet because above that level they have to be specially lit according to a requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration. The companies want to avoid having to light the towers out of concern they will draw more attention to them from an aesthetic point of view for nearby residents.

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