Linthicum residents still oppose Nextel communications tower

April 01, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

If his neighbors had known someone planned to build a 103-foot-tall tower across the street from them, they probably wouldn't have bought their $200,000 houses, Phillip Bowers told the county administrative hearing officer yesterday.

The cellular communications tower planned by Nextel Communications would ruin the aesthetics of his neighborhood in Linthicum, and the access road could become "a nice little haven" for teen-age drinking and drug parties, Mr. Bowers said.

Nextel is requesting a special exception to build a 102.5-foot-tall communications tower on 1.3 acres off Camp Meade Road south of Andover Road zoned for residential use. The company also is requesting a variance because the current zoning limits principal structures to a maximum height of 25 feet.

Nextel, based in Rutherford, N.J., also plans a small, unmanned equipment building on the site, which it will lease from BWI Limited Partnership. It would be one of five towers the company has in the metropolitan area.

Robert C. Wilcox, the hearing officer, said he expects to rule within the next 10 days.

The hearing originally was scheduled for Feb. 24, but was postponed until yesterday at the request of the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association and the Shipley Fairmont Homeowners Association.

The delay, granted with Nextel's agreement, gave residents a chance to express concerns about the tower at a Linthicum-Shipley meeting earlier this month. Residents say they were worried about the safety of electromagnetic and microwave transmissions, the tower's aesthetics and its proximity to a school.

Residents also worried about a Federal Aviation Administration's ruling that the tower does not have to be marked with lights, despite its proximity to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

At that meeting, the two neighborhood associations agreed not to fight Nextel's request if the company agreed to a five-point set of covenants drawn up by the associations.

Joseph Joyce, project director for Nextel, said yesterday the company agreed to negotiate with the county Board of Education to use the Andover Middle School parking lot for access to the tower, to give the associations 60 days' notice of any plans for subleasing or of any changes in the company's site proposal.

The tower will occupy 3,700 square feet of 58,152 square feet of land. The Crestwood Improvement Association has filed a petition with about 80 signatures opposing the tower.

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