Cellular One still wants tower built

September 27, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Cellular One remains firm in its resolve to build a 200-foot telecommunications tower near Sykesville, despite procedural delays and neighborhood complaints.

"We have a good location and are not deterred," said Jeff Owens, Cellular One manager of real estate.

"The present service is not adequate for the county. Communication is vital to that part of the county, and it is poor right now."

The Greenbelt company wants to build a tower on Hollenberry Road, within a mile of Sykesville town limits.

"A lot of people want good communication, especially if there is an emergency," Mr. Owens said. "We are not in this just to sell more phones."

For nearly a year, Cellular One and its contract builder, West Shore Communications, have gone through the county's process for obtaining permits to build the tower on conservation-zoned land adjoining Piney Run Watershed.

"It is a shame we will not have the service as soon as we need it," Mr. Owens said. "We are involved in the zoning process that is taking longer than normal."

About eight months ago, the county Board of Zoning Appeals approved a variance to allow tower construction, despite neighborhood protests and a petition with more than 700 signatures in opposition to the project.

Other telecommunications companies would be able to lease space on the tower. Cellular One has offered the county Emergency Services Operations free use of space on it.

West Shore would build the tower and a maintenance shed on land Cellular One has leased from William and Phyliss Shand on Hollenberry Road.

Last month, the county Planning and Zoning Commission reduced the "fall zone" around the tower from 200 feet to 90 feet in radius. The fall zone is the area in which the tower might land if it fell intact.

The builder has to get an easement from owners of buildings in the danger zone, and some residents living in the 200-foot radius are staunch opponents of the Hollenberry tower.

Reduction of the fall zone is contrary to Planning and Zoning Commission practice. Normally, the commission uses the height of the tower as the radius.

The town of Sykesville and a neighbor, whose land adjoins the Shands' property, have both filed appeals to halt construction because of the reduced fall zone.

The project cannot proceed until the appeals are resolved. Cellular One is leaving the appeals process to West Shore and its attorneys.

"We are just tenants on the tower," Mr. Owens said. "Basically, we are waiting for our contractor to say everything is approved. Then, we can install our equipment."

Cellular One has frequently encountered neighborhood opposition to its towers.

"The net result is delays," Mr. Owens said.

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