Stanly commissioners establish committee to address cell tower requirements

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

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The Stanly County Board of Commissioners approved a new telecommunications outlay district as well as took steps toward establishing new requirements and a new process for the approval of cellphone towers.

County Planning Director Bob Remsberg made a presentation to the board to approve a new district for a 10,000-square-foot area on Austin Road. The land is owned by Lynn Bowers Hunter and is zoned residential agricultural.

Remsberg said the monopole tower would be 195 feet tall. The property meets the current zoning requirements. He presented maps made by Cellco Partnership showing a gap in the Verizon cell coverage and how the tower would fill the gap. Access to the property will be from a 30-foot easement off Austin Road.

The tower also has a fall zone of 100 feet and will be located more than 600 feet away from the nearest residence.

Commissioner Mike Barbee asked if the new towers coming into Stanly were because of the latest 5G (fifth generation) networks.

“I bring this up now, because I feel like this is a moot point, us voting on this. (When) big government gets involved, it takes away our rights,” Barbee said. “I hope the (company) will begin to realize we can’t have a whole county dotted in cell towers everywhere.”

Remsberg said towers are needed for the increased usage of the cellular networks by people.

Vice Chairman Tommy Jordan said it is not the 5G network, which uses smaller, less powerful transmitters. The current 4G and LTE network towers can transmit for six to seven miles.

In the public hearing about the new district, Verizon Wireless representative Victoria Farmer spoke if support of the new district. No one spoke against it.

Commissioner Scott Efird motioned to approve the new district, seconded by Jordan. The vote passed unanimously.

On the suggestion of the county’s Planning Board, Jordan talked about forming a six-person committee, three commissioners and three from the planning board, to zone cellphone towers.

The committee, Jordan said, would have public hearings in various parts of the county to elicit suggestions from citizens regarding cell tower zoning ordinances.

“As long as (cell companies) meet all those requirements, the tower would be approved. If for some reason they don’t meet a requirement, they would get a variance from the Board of Adjustment,” Jordan said.

New ordinances, he added, would mean fewer “headaches” for the zoning board and commissioners, making the process more efficient and generate more revenue for the county.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto asked if the new committee would override state and federal guidelines for cell towers. Jordan said it would not.

Efird said the changes to cellphone ordinances would not differ from recent changes the board passed regarding short-term rentals.

Jordan made the motion for the new committee while naming himself, Efird and Barbee as the commissioners’ representatives. It passed unanimously.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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