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Washington Township supervisor wants firm to look at existing cell tower sites

February 21, 2008|By DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - It could take several months for a land development plan for a 200-foot cell tower in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., to come before the Washington Township Board of Supervisors, but in the meantime, one supervisor said he would like the company behind the project to consider existing tower sites.

Liberty Towers of Rockville, Md., recently came to the board proposing a tower to provide better cell phone coverage to the southeast corner of the township. At Wednesday night's board meeting, Supervisor Chris Firme said the company should consider existing tower sites on Mount Quirock in Maryland where the military has tower sites that served Fort Ritchie, as well as a radio station, WJEJ.

Firme said he also wants more data on other places Liberty Towers tested as possible tower sites. He said the proposed site raises concerns because of its proximity to Pa. 16.

"It's being put right next to a major artery on top of a mountain," Firme said.

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"They're going to do a complete package and answer all the questions," Supervisor Carroll Sturm said of Liberty Towers. That will include analysis of two or three other sites considered, including the Blue Ridge Fire Hall and NBN, a book distribution center.

While the area is not densely populated now, Supervisor John Gorman said the company is probably looking toward the future redevelopment of Fort Ritchie, which will likely boost the need for wireless communications.

Some residents had complained at a previous meeting about the effect the tower could have on their community, but one resident said he believes the time for a tower has come.

"I don't think we should throw any more logs in the road," said Blue Ridge Summit resident Dick Moebius. The tower will be an important asset to residents and visitors passing through the area, he said.

It is still important for the board to consider all viewpoints, including the possibility of an alternative site, Supervisor Stephen Kulla said.

A cell phone tower would be a conditional use in the township, requiring at least two public hearings, Township Manager Mike Christopher said. The company would have to submit engineering information to the township as well as taking its land development plan before the planning commission for review.

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