Commission approves stealth cell towers

Coweta County commissioners, county planning staff and consultants discuss the specifics of a monopine cell tower to be operated by Skyway Towers that was later approved for an 11-acre site on Lora Smith Road.

The Coweta County Commission in the past two weeks has approved the installation of two 150-foot monopine cell phone towers in east Coweta. The approvals were preceded by objections by nearby residents.

Constructed to take the shape of a pine tree, the monopine cell tower on Parks Road proposed by T-Mobile was approved unanimously by commissioners despite the objections of a number of nearby residents citing their opposition to the tower on the basis of health and safety issues, sight pollution and the inappropriate use of the zoning district.

Among those speaking against the proposal was William Fowler, who maintained that the issue was a matter of spot zoning and suggested that cell towers should be limited to commercial or industrial areas.

Noting the comments by several residents on health-related issues that could be caused by close proximity to cell towers, county attorney Nathan Lee said federal law prohibits cell tower proposals from being rejected on the basis of health reasons.

“This board has always been concerned about cell towers, have turned some down and lost in court,” Lee said.

As approved, the tower will be situated on a portion of 47.3 acres off Parks Road just east of the Newnan city limits. The majority of the tract is heavily wooded and is bordered by RC-zoned (Rural Conservation) property.

Among the conditions imposed with the approval was the installation of a black chain-link fence and the requirement that trees with a diameter of 12 inches or greater be preserved within a 250-foot radius of the tower.

The rezoning request by Skyway Towers, approved by the commission last week after being continued from the previous meeting, will locate a 150-foot multi-user monopine tower on a portion of a 10.8-acre RC-zoned tract off Lora Smith Road near Lower Fayetteville Road. The approval comes with the same conditions to maintain a radius of 250 feet for trees of 12 inches in diameter or larger and the installation of a black chain-link fence.

County planning staff said the property is currently vacant and heavily wooded and is bordered on all sides by RC-zoned property. Skyway will lease a 100-foot by 100-foot area that will be fenced with barbed wire to contain the tower and a 12-foot by 20-foot equipment shelter.

Commissioners and consultants prior to the approval had a lengthy discussion on the need to place cell towers in such close proximity. Representing the Georgia Center for Local Government, David Dyer said the proposed placement was necessary to ensure adequate coverage for customers.

Commissioners prior to the vote heard from several area residents with similar concerns expressed by those near the previously approved T-Mobile site.

One resident, Steven Guy, said he would be the closest neighbor to the site, adding that his home would be only 165 feet from the tower. Noting that he had small children, Guy said he did not want them exposed to the microwave radiation emanating from the tower.

“The Federal Communications Commission fails to listen to that argument,” Guy said of what he believed are adverse health effects experienced by those living in such close proximity to a cell tower.

The Coweta County Planning & Zoning Department recommended the approval of both requests.

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