CellularOne may seek more towers Residents oppose planned structures

August 18, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

CellularOne of Washington and Baltimore could build several more towers in Carroll County over the next decade to better serve its mobile telephone and fax customers, county officials learned yesterday.

"We're in the process of improving our coverage," Ed L. Howell, a CellularOne radio frequency engineer, told the county's Planning and Zoning Commission. "Fax machines, telephones . . . these types of equipment require high signal levels."

The company already has one tower in the county -- on Louisville Road off Route 32 near Gamber -- and is awaiting site plan approval from the planning and zoning commission to proceed with two others -- a 150-foot single pole on Oakland Mill Road near Eldersburg and a 250-foot tower on Richardson Road, off Route 140, between Westminster and Taneytown.

The county's Board of Zoning Appeals approved conditional uses for the towers earlier this summer. The company has withdrawn an application for a third tower near Winfield Elementary School. Carroll school officials and neighbors opposed it.

County officials said the company is looking for another site. It hopes to have the three towers in place by the end of 1993.

Residents have showed up at Board of Zoning Appeals hearings to object to towers, contending they detract from neighborhoods and the countryside and decrease property values.

Edmund R. "Ned" Cueman, Carroll's planning director, said the towers provoke "turmoil" among residents wherever they are proposed.

Company officials said towers are being placed in areas of the county where the company needs to boost its signals. Jeff Owens, a real estate manager for CellularOne, said the company's business grew by about 40 percent last year.

Mr. Howell said CellularOne officials envision adding seven towers or antennas in the county over the next decade. He said company officials will try to use existing towers or structures, if possible.

County officials said Bell Atlantic has three towers -- on Mayberry Road near Taneytown, Marston Road north of Taylorsville and Harvey Gummell Road near Hampstead. The towers were built three or four years ago.

Mr. Howell said the company would build other towers, pending county approval, as its budget allows. Even with the additional towers and antennas, Mr. Howell said, there will be coverage gaps, primarily north of Westminster, that could require more towers.

"Additionally, please keep in mind that as times change we could possibly need a tower somewhere that we have not planned for at this time," Mr. Howell wrote in a letter to county planners earlier this month.

Besides the tower near Gamber, CellularOne has an antenna on another tower on Gorsuch Road in Westminster, company officials said. The company does not own that tower.

Stephen Ford, supervisor of the county's Bureau of Development Review, asked CellularOne officials to meet with the planning commission to familiarize board members with its future proposals.

The planning commission could act on the company's site plans for the two towers on Oakland Mill Road and Richardson Road as early as next month.

Mr. Ford said the tower sites usually contain a small maintenance building that company officials visit once a month. Mobile telephone communications towers under 100 feet are allowed in any area of the county, county officials said.

Towers between 100 feet and 200 feet are allowed as conditional uses in all zoning areas. Towers more than 200 feet tall are allowed as conditional uses in agricultural, business and industrial zones.

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