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Suggestions shared for cell towers

June 05, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County residents told the County Commission Thursday night they want changes made to the proposed ordinance on wireless communication towers.

County officials said they need more time to review the suggestions and called for a work session Wednesday to discuss the proposed ordinance.

Euphemia Kallas of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., said the ordinance should include a restriction to prevent tower construction on the Blue Ridge Mountain ridge line so the towers don't stick up above the mountains.

Kallas said there also should be a requirement to limit the number of towers that can be constructed in Jefferson County.

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"Otherwise we could have towers as plentiful as telephone poles," Kallas said. "We have to accommodate them ... however, we'd like to keep our county as green as possible."

Rita Hennessy, of Charles Town, said the proposed ordinance does not contain height restrictions for new towers and said a 199-foot height restriction should be added.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires that towers over 199 feet be topped by flashing lights to make them visible to pilots.

County officials said an ordinance must be approved soon, because the moratorium on tower construction will be lifted on July 1.

"Then we're susceptible to something happening with no protection at all," said Jefferson County Commissioner James K. Ruland.

County officials said they believe the proposed ordinance covers most of the issues, but might have to be amended to add more protection.

"I have some concerns about the ridge line," said Jefferson County Commission President R. Gregory Lance.

The moratorium was enacted to block any further construction of cellular towers until an ordinance regulating them is enacted.

The moratorium was passed after U.S. Cellular received a building permit in December to construct a 260-foot-high tower near the boundary of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park as the Jefferson County Planning Commission worked on the ordinance.

The towers currently are not regulated by the county.

If the commission amends the proposed ordinance, it would be sent back to the Planning Commission for review.

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