AT&T wins city consent to erect tower for cell phones

Neighbors' protests can't sway zoning board

May 16, 2001|By JAMIE STIEHM | JAMIE STIEHM,SUN STAFF

Over the objections of Northwest Baltimore residents, the city's zoning board yesterday unanimously approved constructing a 100-foot AT&T Wireless antenna at 3100 Clarks Lane.

The company plans to erect the tower - disguised as a flagpole - at an apartment complex on Clarks Lane just north of Fallstaff Road.

It is needed to fill a gap in the company's cell phone network and other services, AT&T Wireless officials said yesterday.

This made no difference to the 165 residents who signed a petition against the flagpole and the approximately 60 who showed up yesterday to oppose what they considered an intrusion and eyesore in their neighborhood.

In a letter read at the hearing, the city's planning department sided with neighborhood leaders, recommending against approval in a "very suburban" part of the city.

Paul A. Dorf, the lawyer representing AT&T Wireless, told the board that an exhaustive search was made of the area, and the placement met every legal requirement.

One witness on the corporation's behalf was former mayoral candidate Carl Stokes, who does contractural public relations work for AT&T.

On the other side were residents who came to City Hall to persuade the five-member board to vote against AT&T Wireless.

In testimony yesterday, Cross Country Improvement Association president Eric Benzer recounted an earlier meeting with the corporation: "We were crystal clear in our opposition. ... Corporate co-citizens should act in good faith."

In addition to the pole, a 12' X 28' ground level equipment shelter will be built.

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