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Planners OK new cell tower

January 07, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - With little debate or discussion, the Washington County Planning Commission on Monday unanimously approved a plan to construct a 199-foot cell phone tower in an apple orchard in the Ringgold area.

The tower will 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 company will lease a 450-square-foot area to construct the tower and an equipment compound, Senior Planner Timothy Lung said.

The compound will be surrounded by an 8-foot-high chain-link fence with barbed wire on the top.

After the meeting, Commission Chairwoman Paula Lampton said the plan met all the county's criteria for a tower, which is why she supported it.

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She said the Board of Zoning Appeals in July had approved a special exception so the tower could be built.

"There really wasn't anything we could do to turn it down," Lampton said.

While the tower received no opposition from residents Monday, people spoke out against it at the July Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

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

Lung said Monday the area where the tower will be built has a gap in cell phone service.

He said Cellular One will locate on the tower and there will be room for other providers.

Martin will continue to farm the land surrounding the tower, Lung said.

Martin said at July's Board of Zoning Appeals meeting that 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.

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