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Lawmakers want cell tower rules 'toughened'

April 09, 2001

Lawmakers want cell tower rules 'toughened'



By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Del. Chris Shank, R-Washington, and Sen. Don Munson, R-Washington, say they want Washington County's rules for cell towers "toughened up."

Shank and Munson said they made the request to Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger, county employees and others at a meeting this winter.

But Shank said he has seen no change since that time.

In fact, he noted, a new cell-tower proposal is running into the same problems as a proposal Shank and Munson opposed before: It is too close to historic Civil War sites.

The previous proposal was near South Mountain. The new one is on Lappans Road near Sharpsburg Pike, less than five miles from Antietam National Battlefield.

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Washington County Attorney Richard Douglas said Friday he will take the blame for not having a response yet to Shank and Munson's suggestions.

Iseminger asked him to do a report on the state lawmakers request, but he has been too busy with other projects to write that report yet, Douglas said.

Discussed changes included:

-- Limiting the size of cell towers to a maximum of 100 feet. The two proposals Shank and Munson opposed were almost 200 feet in height.

-- Having a moratorium on towers in the south county area.

-- Requiring applicants to pay $7,000. That money could then be used by tower opponents to pay for expert witnesses.

Until 1999, free-standing towers were handled with permits and approval from the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals was not required, Douglas said. The change was made to allow public input and feedback on proposed towers

However, some residents have said that change did not go far enough in blocking companies from putting towers in inappropriate locations.

But Shank said he did not want to wait another two years before the county makes changes to its rules.

If changes can't be made now, than the county should consider some type of a moratorium, he said.

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