PTC approves new celltower ordinance

Handful of residents upset at ban on public comments

The latest changes to Peachtree City’s next celltower ordinance were approved Thursday night by the City Council.

The ordinance requires that all new antennas, even if they are going on an existing building, be reviewed by the planning commission and City Council for final approval.

Several residents expressed disappointment after Mayor Don Haddix announced he was not taking public comment on the ordinance, which has been the subject of a number of meetings this year between the City Council and the Peachtree City Planning Commission.

Haddix said he wasn’t allowing public comment in order to avoid rehashing old issues.

Several residents groaned upon hearing the announcement, and resident Kathie Cheney managed to ask one question and get an answer before Haddix halted the discussion so council could deliberate and vote on the ordinance.

A last-minute change to the ordinance deleted a reference to proposed fees for applications filed for either a new celltower or antenna or antennas added to existing towers. Those fees will later be added to the city’s schedule of fees, explained Community Development Director David Rast.

Another last-minute change eliminated a requirement for cellphone companies to provide the city with $15,000 in funding to pay for independent analysis of such requests, but that requirement is expected to be added back in once the city secures a wireless communications consultant.

The ordinance allows new celltowers to be constructed in city parks and recreation facilities and on other property zoned open space-public. That has sparked an outcry from several citizens who worry that future city councils might allow such to occur.

Several council members have pointed out that if a future council wants to allow celltowers in city parks, it could do so by changing any ordinance that would ban it from occurring.

The ordinance expands the zoning categories which allow new celltowers to include property zoned both general commercial and also office-institutional. Previously, celltowers had only been allowed on land zoned general industrial, light industrial, open space and agriculture-residential.

New towers on land zoned general commercial or office institution would still have to meet all setback rules for other celltowers in order to be approved.

The new ordinance does not allow celltowers on land zoned open space-conservation nor on land zoned agriculture-residential. There are only a small handful of AR zoned tracts left in the city anyway, officials have said.

The new ordinance expands the setback from which a celltower parcel must be from the property line of any adjacent property being used for a residence, school or church to 250 feet.

The ordinance also caps the size of all new towers at a maximum of 180 feet.

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