Couple appeal approval of 250-foot cell tower on neighboring farm

September 08, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Silver Run couple who object to a proposed 250-foot telecommunications tower next door have asked Carroll Circuit Court to overturn a county Board of Zoning Appeals' decision granting a property-line variance to Sprint PCS.

Alton J. and Garma S. Dutterer, of the 1200 block of E. Mayberry Road, object to the variance, which reduces the required setback of 258 feet from the property line to 78 feet. Their property is west of the 1211 Cherrytown Road site owned by Silver Run Poultry Inc.

The county Board of Zoning Appeals approved the variance last month.

Charles O. Fisher, a Westminster attorney representing the Dutterers, said yesterday his clients believe the planned tower is "just too close" to their property.

Fisher declined to comment further.

John T. Maguire, a Westminster attorney representing Sprint PCS, was unavailable for comment yesterday, a spokesman for his office said.

The Dutterers' petition states that they would be harmed by the board's decision.

According to their petition, the Dutterers attended a July 26 public hearing where Mr. Dutterer was one of about 25 citizens to testify in opposition to the tower.

Mr. Dutterer told the appeals board that a 250-foot tower built too close to his property could "result in unsafe conditions should the tower collapse."

He also said the tower would decrease the value of his property.

During the five-hour hearing, Sprint officials tried to appease residents, saying that thousands of cellular phone users, including fire and police departments, would benefit from improved reception when eight towers they plan to erect in northern Carroll County are completed.

Ultimately, the board appeared swayed by county and federal laws.

County law permits towers on agricultural land and the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 has declared that towers are not health hazards and that local governments may not prevent towers from being erected for environmental reasons.

Sprint PCS requested a conditional use for the 250-foot tower in Silver Run, planning to place it and up to five equipment cabinets in a 50-by-50-foot fenced area.

In its decision, signed by Karl V. Reichlin, chairman of the county's Board of Zoning Appeals, the board ruled that Sprint PCS had proven its need for a telecommunications tower to improve wireless phone service.

"The proposed use is appropriate at this location and it will not generate adverse effects greater that those ordinarily associated with this particular use irrespective of its location within the [Agricultural] Zone."

The board said the proposed tower would not jeopardize public safety.

It also said a manure pond located on the property presented an "undue hardship" to Sprint PCS and justified granting the variance to the setback on the west side.

Also because of the pond, the board granted a variance to the south side -- reducing the 258-foot setback to 206 feet.

Pub Date: 9/08/99

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