In search of a tower site

March 24, 1995

No one should be discouraged that Carroll County officials and representatives of West Shore Communications have failed to agree on a new site for the company's proposed telecommunications tower after a couple of meetings. Many more meetings may be required to settle on an alternative to a controversial site on Hollenberry Road, but both sides should persist in their efforts.

Sykesville officials and neighbors of the Hollenberry Road site show no signs of abandoning their fight to stop construction of West Shore's 200-foot tower, which began last fall but was halted abruptly. They have already asked for a judicial review of a zoning decision that permitted construction to begin and are likely to appeal every permit needed to continue the tower. Given the history surrounding zoning and building permits for this site, court reviews of these approvals could delay construction for months.

While the Hollenberry Road site may be the best location from West Shore's perspective, the company must consider whether a protracted fight to build there is worthwhile. If this were the only tower planned in Carroll by West Shore and Cellular One, its major user, the companies might be willing to accept the political costs of a bruising battle. But West Shore may return to build other towers. Its executives must consider the consequences of alienating the current commissioners, who favor another location.

West Shore also has to make a business calculation. How much more capital does it want to invest in legal fees? How long does the company want to forgo lease fees that a completed tower would generate? The company might be better off financially to agree to a less optimum location than to fight for this one.

Most important, West Shore would be demonstrating good faith by relinquishing this site. Such an action might offset the impression the company left when it hurriedly tried to pour a foundation for the tower over a weekend while questions remained about the validity of the building permit. The County Commissioners and Sykesville Mayor Jonathan Herman say they are more than willing to assist West Shore in finding a better site.

From the beginning, placing a tower at this location was a mistake. Even if it takes months to find another site, the company and county residents alike will be better off.

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