PTC to add more rules for new cell towers

Balloon test would be required to assess visual impact of new towers

Cellphone and other wireless communications companies may soon have even more hoops to jump through if they want to build a new tower in Peachtree City.

The new process proposed by city staff would add another layer to the mix: a requirement for all new structures such as cell towers to be approved by the City Council. Currently, as long as new cell towers are located in the allowed zoning districts and meet city regulations, they do not require council approval.

The new ordinance will be discussed Monday night by the Peachtree City Planning Commission, which meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The ordinance is expected to be considered July 15 by the City Council, as that is the same date a current moratorium on cell towers expires.

The ordinance, if approved, will eliminate new towers from being erected as currently allowed on land zoned agricultural reserve. The towers would still be allowed on land zoned light industrial, general industrial and open space-public.

The ordinance also bumps up the distance a tower must be away from an adjacent property line from 200 to 250 feet.

The ordinance also lowers the maximum height of any tower from 199 to 180 feet, as measured from the ground level to the highest point on the proposed structure.

One of the new requirements of the ordinance is for the companies to conduct a visual impact assessment including a balloon test to demonstrate the height of the proposed tower and support facilities. The balloon must be flown for at least eight hours between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. with the date, time and location of the balloon test made public in a legal advertisement.

Also during the balloon test the wireless company will be required to take photos of the balloon from approximately 200 feet away, with at least four views from the north, south, east and west.

The balloon test is required to be scheduled at first on a weekend, but if visibility interferes with the test it can be rescheduled to a weekday.

Also as part of the new ordinance, wireless companies would also be required, if a tower is within 500 feet of a residential parcel, to list alternate sites and whey they are either unacceptable or unfeasible. Also in such cases, wireless companies would be required to provide copies of requests and responses for shared use of the new tower, along with any letters of rejection.

Staff’s presentation Monday night will include an analysis of potential cell towers sites and how the new ordinance may or may not impact those sites, according to a memo on the topic circulated to planning commission members.

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