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Judge puts halt to tower construction

June 09, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes told U.S. Cellular officials Monday to hold off on any construction on their tower site off U.S. 340 until he reaches a decision in the case.

The judge said Monday he wants to review the Board of Zoning Appeals' April 16 decision that it did not have jurisdiction over Cliffside Inn owner William Gavin's appeal.

Gavin appealed the Dec. 9 decision by the Jefferson County Planning Commission to allow construction of a 260-foot-high tower next to his hotel and near the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

U.S. Cellular attorneys defended the company's right to build on the site off U.S. 340 Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, but company officials continue to negotiate on a site with Harpers Ferry officials.

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U.S. Cellular Project Manager Markham L. Gartley said he will be at a public hearing at 7 p.m. today at Harpers Ferry Town Hall to discuss the company's proposal to build a tower on the water tank on Bolivar Heights.

Gartley said the town and U.S. Cellular are close to reaching an agreement. He said no decision has been made on what would happen to the property off U.S. 340 that the company purchased for the 260-foot high tower.

As part of the negotiations for the water tank site, the company will put up a full-scale working model on Bolivar Heights so people could see what the visual impact would be, he said.

At the court hearing Monday, Wilkes listened to attorneys for Gavin, U.S. Cellular and the Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals go over the case.

"It certainly is clear as mud now," he told the attorneys.

Gavin's attorney, Matt Ward, said Gavin would like the judge to agree to hear the case himself or send it back to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The judge's order to hold off on any construction comes after an order by the Federal Communications Commission that the tower not be constructed.

Attorney David Camilletti, who also is representing Gavin, said it is good to have extra protection to block any construction.

Ward said issues raised by the case, such as whether the Board of Zoning Appeals has jurisdiction to hear similar cases, are important, but the case might be dropped if the water tank site is selected.

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