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W.Va. cell tower appeal postponed

February 19, 1998

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals rescheduled a hearing on an appeal of a Planning Commission decision to allow U.S. Cellular to build a 260-foot-high tower in the middle of a Civil War battlefield.

The hearing was to have been held Thursday, but the Zoning Appeals Board did not have enough members present to hear the case.

One member was absent, and another recused himself because he had been involved in litigation against a cellular phone tower in Shepherdstown, W.Va. A third member had been in business with the previous owner of the site.

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With two of the board's five members present, the board did not have the required quorum.

The hearing was rescheduled for March 19.

The Dec. 9 Planning Commission decision was appealed by William Gavin, owner of the Cliffside Inn and Convention Center, which is next to the proposed tower site.

About 30 people attended the hearing Thursday.

Both sides in the debate had asked for a 60-day continuance to give them time to find an alternative site.

U.S. Cellular officials and those who oppose the company's plans to build the tower near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park said they are continuing to work together to reach a compromise.

Scot Faulkner, president of the Friends of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, said both sides wanted to avoid a potentially hostile hearing that could hurt their efforts to reach an agreement.

"We're trying to work out a win-win compromise and we don't want to move into a win-lose confrontation," Faulkner said.

U.S. Cellular Project Manager Markham L. Gartley, who flew in from New Hampshire to attend Thursday's hearing, said the company plans to put up testing towers at the water tower site on top of Bolivar Heights to test the cellular signals.

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