PTC OK’s streetlight cell antennas for north Kedron area
A cutting edge initiative to improve cellular signals in north Peachtree City got the go-ahead from the Peachtree City Council Thursday night.
Council approved a franchise agreement with NextG Networks, which will install a fiber optic system in the north Kedron Hills area that includes an estimated six antennas. While it is hoped to install the antennas on existing streetlights, the decorative ones in the area aren’t tall enough, so the company may have to install new poles.
The poles will be limited to a maximum of 35 feet tall and will be either brown or black, and must be similar or equal in architecture to adjacent light poles. Each pole will have a box either on it or on the ground with equipment associated with each antenna.
NextG has agreed to provide a detailed drawing to city staff of all proposed poles and associated equipment prior to installation so staff may review the locations. Because NextG is a utility it has wide-ranging powers to locate its equipment, but NextG representative Christopher Sinclair said the company’s goal is to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Sinclair added that he is the community’s advocate to make sure that ill advised pole locations are avoided whenever possible.
“In those instances when I think a pole location would cause conflict, I will ask them to reconsider,” Sinclair said of the initial proposed locations submitted by the company’s radiofrequency engineers.
Also, NextG has agreed to locate new poles adjacent to city-owned greenbelt or open space as much as possible to avoid “disruption of the residential character of the neighborhood,” according to a memorandum of understanding between the city and NextG.
If the city wants, NextG will upgrade its poles to have streetlights if the new poles are built in areas where streetlights are needed, said Sinclair.
The poles can allow up to two carriers to operate at any one time, and the NextG network allows for the use of any cellular technology currently in use today, Sinclair said.
Depending on topography and other factors, the range of each antenna is about a quarter of a mile, he added.
While the project most likely will avoid the need for a new celltower in the Kedron area, there is a tradeoff. NextG Networks operates as a utility, meaning it has wide-ranging powers to operate as it sees fit in the public right of way.
Council members scrutinized the concept thoroughly, and considered the possibility that other companies could come in and do the same thing in other areas of the city where additional cellular service is needed. But in the end, the protections outlined in the memorandum of understanding were enough for council to vote unanimously in favor of approving the franchise agreement.
Among those protections is a hierarchy that calls for new poles to first be considered for arterial highways such as Hwys. 54 and 74, then on community collector roads such as Georgian Park, Braelinn Road and Kedron Drive, then village collector roads, then residential streets and finally on scenic roads as a last resort, explained Community Development Director David Rast.
Like any utility, the franchise agreement calls for the city to be paid 3 percent of the NextG’s revenue in return for the city allowing use of its rights of way for the project.
Several council members urged strongly for the NextG Network to deploy battery backup systems, and Sinclair agreed to ask its client on this project to use them.
But the final decision is up to that client, not NextG, Sinclair noted.
Mayor Don Haddix said without the battery backup, cellphones in the area would not work and thus could not be used in case of an emergency in which a power outage occurred.
Councilman Doug Sturbaum said he also wanted each pole to have a sign denoting how they emit radiofrequency waves within the limits established by the Federal Communications Commission. It was determined that signage could be developed at a later date by city staff to avoid the potential of it being too obtrusive, as suggested by Councilwoman Kim Learnard.