Sykesville to appeal communications tower

September 15, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Sykesville hopes to call a halt to tower construction just outside its limits.

In a 3-2 decision, the Town Council voted Monday to lodge an appeal of a county-approved telecommunications tower on Hollenberry Road, within a mile of the town limits.

The appeal is based on a 12-year-old contract between the town and county, which guarantees each government site-plan acceptance for construction projects in the town and for a mile outside its borders.

Town officials said the county violated the terms of the contract by not submitting plans for the 200-foot tower less than a mile from the northern edge of town.

"I have never known them [the county] not to send us a site plan," said James L. Schumacher, town manager. "The [town] Planning and Zoning Commission wants us to file a formal appeal. We would ask the county Planning Commission to reconsider the decision."

The county has confirmed the oversight, Mr. Schumacher said.

Dennis J. Hoover, town attorney, said if the town can prove a violation of the agreement, "we can put them [the county] through the hoops again. There was an agreement between public bodies and consideration was not given to one of them."

The appeal could force the county to reopen the approval process and might cause a reversal of the decision, he said.

"Wilder things have happened," said Mr. Hoover. "The tower has become a cause celebre."

In January, Mr. Schumacher added the town's formal protest on the proposed tower to that of several dozen residents at a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. Despite the testimony and a petition signed by 700 residents, the board approved the variance that would allow construction to proceed on conservation-zoned land.

Cellular One plans to build the tower on property it will lease from William J. and Phyliss Shand. The company could rent space on the tower to other businesses and has offered the county Emergency Operations Center free use.

Mayor Kenneth W. Clark and Councilman Eugene E. Johnson voted against filing an appeal. Mr. Johnson said the appeal was a waste of time and energy because the tower is a "done deal."

The mayor, a former Bell Atlantic employee, said the town has a "primary responsibility to provide for the safety of our residents. Without the communications tower, we can't."

Councilman Garth Adams, a Bell Atlantic employee, abstained from the vote.

"Somehow, we get our communications without a tower," he said.

Councilman William R. Hall Jr. said the county oversight "reopened the door" on the issue and gave everyone another chance to fight it.

"We shouldn't dummy down," he said.

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