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Cell phone tower ruling due Monday

January 06, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Planning Commission will decide Monday night whether to approve a 199-foot cell tower proposed in a Ringgold-area apple orchard.

The tower would be owned by Shentel Shenandoah Mobile Co. and built on John R. Martin's 58-acre Ivy Hill Farm at 13840 Smithsburg Pike (Md. 64), south of Ringgold.

The land is zoned agricultural.

The tower is being built for Sprint, but at least two other cell phone carriers have expressed interest in using the tower, Leonard Greisz of Shenandoah Mobile Co. said last summer.

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In August, the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals narrowly approved a special exception so the tower could be erected.

Residents of the Ringgold area have expressed concerns that the tower would destroy the area's pastoral view. Others say they would welcome the obstruction if it will result in better cell phone service.

Martin said at a public hearing over the summer he was making cider one day when he was approached about selling land for a cell phone tower.

He turned the request down, but later negotiated a long-term lease that would allow him to keep farming the land around the tower.

The terms of the lease were not disclosed at the hearing, but Martin said it will help buffer his farm's financial problems.

"Anybody in the apple business has resigned themselves to a slow death, financially," Martin said.

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