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Washington Township planners OK with plan to put cell antennas on existing tower

July 15, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - There is a right way and a wrong way to provide cellular coverage to Blue Ridge Summit, and on Monday the Washington Township Planning Commission recommended a proposal which, in its opinion, does cellular the way cellular "should be done."

The commission unanimously recommended approval of plans by Shenandoah Personal Communications Co./Shentel to place a cellular antenna 115 feet up an existing water tower between Pa. 16 and Old Route 16 east of Capital Camps in Rouzerville, Pa.

Commissioner Randy Kuhn said larger cities have set a strong example of how to hide antennas in a community without building additional structures.

"Look at the big cities, they find existing structures like church steeples or whatever is out there to put these on, they don't build 190 foot poles in the middle of residential community," he said.

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Cellular service has been a hot topic in Washington Township for the last few years.

Most recently, the township considered a proposal by Liberty Towers LLC of Rockvile, Md., for a 190-foot monopole tower off Jacobs Church Road in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa.

The Liberty Towers proposal created a public outcry concerning the visual impact of the tower given its proposed proximity to Pa. 16, the Appalachian Trail and sites that residents consider to be of historic importance.

The planning commission held a conditional use hearing Monday on Shentel's proposal where both residents and commissioners praised the proposal for being nearly invisible to the community.

Stanley Besecker, a former telecommunications professional with Sprint and resident of Washington Township, said only a few people would notice the antennas on the tower.

"I am well aware of the spot where the cell site is to be installed," he said. "Right now, the majority of residents would have a job even finding the location. The small antennas will not impact the area (visually) at all."

Township resident Dick Moebius questioned the water tower's ability to support the weight of up to six, 9-pound antennas over an extended period of time.

Site Acquisition Consultant Tucker Lahr said Shentel has placed antennas on many towers like the one in Rouzerville and drafted its plan based on analysis of the tower's structural capacity.

The proposal will go before the Board of Supervisors at its July 21 meeting.

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