City Council delays cell tower vote over residents’ concerns
(pictured above: Luis Sanchez points to the area where the tower would stand.)
Luis Sanchez has tried to take the fight to Winston-Salem City Council to avoid having to view cell phone towers in his neighborhood.
“I am not against towers, per se, but to put them smack in the middle of neighborhoods, I disagree with. Everyone expects for this to pass but I am going to give them a fight,” Sanchez said. “You can put them next to the highway, industrial areas or places that are highly developed.”
Sanchez, who lives in the Hampton Commons community, is attempting to try to stop the erection of a cell phone transmission tower by American Tower Company, which builds towers used by large corporations like AT&T, on the land at Bethel United Methodist Church. The tower would sit-on 4.89 acres of undeveloped property and would be one of the first placed in a residential neighborhood under a new ordinance.
“We are pretty much guinea pigs, and you will see more of these (cell phone towers) in the future in neighborhoods,” Sanchez said.
The City Council voted unanimously Monday to continue the public hearing on the matter until July 7, citing the need for additional information on preserving trees and the need to ensure that all residents in neighborhoods are aware of the public meeting.
City Council member Dan Besse said the hearing is a quasi-judicial, which does not allow for council members to speak on the issue outside of the meeting, including with constituents.
David George, a Hampton Commons resident who also spoke at the meeting, asked the council to consider the visual effect the tower would have on the community.
“Between me and the tower, there is nothing but a meadow. You also might consider that these are all deciduous trees in the area,” George said. “In the winter time, there won’t be any kind of buffer. My concern was the aesthetic and property values.”
Another tower is slated to go up in the Edgewood Baptist Church area near Reidsville Road. It would sit on 6.23 acres of developed land with two single-family homes. One of the homes, at 4127 Reidsville Road, is currently vacant. The public hearing on that tower was also continued until July 7.
Both permits were approved by the city’s Planning Board after the City Council amended the Unified Development Ordinances in February to allow towers to be erected in residential communities. The Council would still need to approve sites and plans for individual towers before they go up.
Under the plan approved, towers will not be approved that would significantly adversely affect property values.
Companies wanting to build towers are also required to notify, by way of letters, all residents and neighborhood organizations within 500 feet of the proposed site. Community meetings will also be held before council voting on individual tower sites.
A buffer zone is included in the new amendment that requires developers to place a tower far enough away from an adjacent residential property line that the buffer zone is the tower’s height plus 20 feet.
The tower in question is expected to be a 150-foot-tall monopine, which would look like a tall pine tree, or monopole, which would look like a thin, metal pole.
Sanchez said that he has a number of problems with the tower.
“It is going to be a 150-foot tower made to look like a pine tree where there are no pine trees. In the winter, it will stick out even more. Of course, being a homeowner, I am also concerned about property values and the emissions coming from the tower,” Sanchez said. “In ten years, there will be about ten or 12 of these things all over neighborhoods. This issue affects all communities. If this goes through without a problem it will just set a precedent for others.”