County commissioners vote to allow two new cell towers

Cleveland County commissioners approved two rezoning requests last week that will add two new telecommunications towers to the county.

Chris Martin, county planning and zoning director, said the first tower will be located on Webb Road, and commissioners approved a zoning request that will change the site from residential to neighborhood business conditional use. Martin said the case was presented to the planning board and was recommended for approval.

He said the county’s land use plan encourages the improvement of broadband services around the county not only for residents and businesses but also public safety.

Martin said the tract of land where the tower will be located is around 40 acres, but there is a neighborhood surrounding the parcel with property lines as close as 200 feet away.

The 183-foot monopole style tower is primarily designed for Verizon wireless and three additional broadband carriers, according to Jonathan Yates, a Charleston, South Carolina, attorney and the petitioner for the rezoning request.

Some of the residents were unhappy with the prospect of having a cell tower so close to their houses.

Prior to the meeting Chris Kratzer, who lives in the neighborhood, said he had some concerns about the proximity of the tower to houses. He said not only is it an eyesore, but he worried it would impact property values.

“I don't understand why we have to put this there and not somewhere else that would be less intrusive,” Kratzer said.

Lydia Steele, who spoke during public comments, said the tower is literally in her backyard.

Steele said she is a two-time cancer survivor and had concerns about its safety.

“It’s surrounded by kids and people like me,” she said. “I am concerned because I don't want anybody to have a radiation or chemo drip like I did. Just take it under consideration, that's all I ask.”

Yates addressed the radiation concerns and said cell towers are very heavily regulated. He said they produce non-ionizing radiation, which is the same as TVs, car radios, bluetooth, TV remotes and cell phones.

“It’s been studied and studied and studied,” he said. “ At ground level 80 feet away, you only get 1%. It is absolutely safe.”

Martin addressed concerns about the fall zone and said the tower is designed to collapse within 50 feet of where it sits.

Yates said they are able to withstand winds of over 100 miles per hour.

“There is an absolute need in that area,” he said.

He said the goal is to bring cell coverage in all areas of the state up to the same level as what can be found in Mecklenburg County.

“This area has a definite deficit,” Yates said.

The second tower will be located on Blacksburg Road.

Commissioners also voted to rezone to neighborhood business conditional use.

Martin said the cell tower will be located between Earl and the South Carolina state line and will be a 239-foot-tall tower.

The petitioner is Southern Towers, and it will be a lattice style tower..

Martin said it is located in a pretty rural area and is over 800 feet from the closest home and nearly 500 feet from the road.

He said the planning board also recommended it for approval.

Ralph Wyngarden, attorney with Faulk & Foster in Michigan, said the occupant of the tower will be Verizon as well as accommodating three additional providers.

He said the tower will provide important services for agritourism, home-based business and residents in a rural area and will fill in gaps in services.

This article originally appeared on The Shelby Star: Two new telecommunication towers to be added to Cleveland County