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Resident urges notice for new county celltowers

A north Peachtree City resident told the Fayette County Commission Wednesday that she first found out about a new celltower going up near her home when she heard the bulldozers clearing the land.

Maria Kachadurian, who lives in the Kedron Hills subdivision, argued that the county should overturn the administrative approval for the tower site on Crabapple Lane in favor of a competing application a short distance away on Farr Road.

The company behind the Farr Road tower site has filed an appeal that will be heard Sept. 19 by the county’s zoning board of appeals.

County planning staff is looking at amending the ordinance to require notification of nearby property owners for proposed celltowers. Another possible amendment would provide notice if a proposed tower is within a certain range from a nearby jurisdiction including cities and other counties.

In the meantime, Kachadurian says she wants to make sure something like this doesn’t happen to others. She suggested in the future that the county require all celltowers to go through a public hearing process, which would allow nearby residents to have input on the matter.

Commissioner Steve Brown said he felt it was unacceptable that the tower could be under construction with no notice to Kachadurian.

“She had no idea until she heard the bulldozer move trees and earth,” Brown said.

A potential problem with sending notices to residents about new tower sites is that they might get the impression they can convince county staff that a given tower location is inappropriate, said County Planning and Zoning Director Pete Frisina.

Frisina said the only time a celltower application would result in a public notice would be if the tower was to eclipse the height restriction of 180 feet, or if it failed to meet the distance or other requirements outlined in the county ordinance.

In such cases, the county ordinance requires a public hearing to be held so the public can provide input, Frisina said.

Kachadurian said the Crabapple Lane tower is being built 550 feet behind her home.

In this case, the Crabapple Lane celltower was approved by county staff because it met all of the county’s tower rules, including a distance mark of 1.5 miles away from the nearest existing or planned celltower.

Because the Crabapple Lane tower application was filed weeks before the Farr Road tower application, county staff determined that it could be deemed a “planned tower” and thus would render the Farr Road site within the 1.5 mile radius that triggers a public hearing process.

The new celltower on Crabapple Lane is already under construction, and it will be a 180-foot tall monopole, which is a single pole into the sky unlike the older lattice-type celltower.

Nonetheless, critics say, the tower will extend above the treeline and as such be an eyesore.

The Crabapple Lane tower is being built by Site Concepts, Inc. of Georgia, and the Farr Road tower application is being sought by Highwood Towers.

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