Foes plan to pack hearing on communications tower

January 09, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The Piney Run Neighborhood Action Committee plans to pack a Jan. 27 zoning hearing with 100 people opposed to a 200-foot telecommunications tower on land zoned for conservation near their neighborhood.

"We are the only item on the agenda," said Cathleen Heisch, committee organizer. "If we have to tie them up for eight hours, we will."

The community group formed two months ago when residents learned of plans for the tower off Hollenberry Road in Sykesville.

Bell Atlantic and Cellular One have agreed to lease a half-acre from William J. and Phyllis Shand for $550 a month to build the tower and an equipment building, then lease tower space to other users.

But the county Board of Zoning Appeals must approve a conditional variance before the tower can be built.

Nearly 50 people met at Eldersburg Library yesterday to plan opposition and urge attendance at the hearing. "Make this a viable community issue and make the hearing powerful with people from all over the community," said Rachelle Hurwitz of Uniontown.

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said cellular phone companies are "gridding the county" with plans for 24 towers.

"People are growing anesthetized to clutter," Mr. Brown said. "What we will have to live with 20 years from now is what we put up with today."

The Piney Run committee has hired a lawyer and started a petition drive and letter-writing campaign to the Carroll County Commissioners.

Members also have sent fliers to 400 homes within sight of the proposed tower and amassed more than 500 signatures in opposition.

Sykesville Town Manager James L. Schumacher reiterated the town's opposition to the tower, which would be 1,200 feet outside its limits. He told the committee to oppose the project which, he said, is contrary to the county's planning for the area and rules on the use of conservation land.

Vince DiPietro, an aerospace engineer and Sykesville resident, said alternative communications that soon will be available would make the towers obsolete.

"Why put up towers, which have to be maintained, when satellite technology is coming on line within the next few years," he said. "Communications satellites won't depreciate our homes or harm our health."

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