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New site considered for emergency communications tower

November 10, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A new site is being considered for a 190-foot emergency communications tower after public protest caused Washington County officials to back away from an earlier spot.

Both sites are near U.S. 340 in southern Washington County.

Joseph Kroboth III, the county's public works director, said the new spot is off Miller Avenue in the Sandy Hook area.

The earlier site was county-owned land near the intersection of Keep Tryst and Sandy Hook roads.

Kroboth said a "balloon test" -- a simulation of the visual impact -- will be conducted at the new site on Friday.

The county has a verbal agreement to acquire property from the Himes family, Kroboth said.

The National Park Service and citizen groups protested the previous tower site for various reasons, including the tower's potential effect on the view, tourism and property values.

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In February, Kroboth said the county was considering buying land at another site.

The tower is one of several the county is building as part of a communications network for police, fire and rescue agencies.

The battle over the tower placement has slowed the county's plans for a new 911 center and communications system, Kroboth said earlier this year.

For Friday's test, three spots a few hundred yards apart will be used for the simulation, he said.

A crane will be used to get the balloons to the proper height.

The demonstration will last from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kroboth said.

Representatives from the county, Harpers Ferry National Park, C&O Canal National Historical Park and Appalachian National Scenic Trail will take pictures of the tower simulation.

Officials will prepare a report on the new site. Kroboth said he expects a public hearing to be held in January or February.

If the weather is bad Friday, the simulation will be Nov. 20.

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