Commission gives OK on land option

3-acre site near Lineboro possible for emergency communications tower

Area `dead' spots a safety hazard

Proposed parcel purchase to cost county $125,000

February 25, 2003|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

Five years after county officials began searching for a site to build a tower that would eliminate a gap in emergency radio communications in the northeast area of the county, the Carroll commissioners moved yesterday toward buying land for the project.

The commissioners voted unanimously to sign an option for the county to buy for $125,000 a 3-acre parcel south of Lineboro, where the tower could be built as early as this summer.

The county must advertise the agreement and wait 15 days for public comment before returning the proposal to the commissioners to complete the purchase, said Douglas Myers, Department of Public Works director.

County officials, recognizing that "dead" spots in radio communication near Lineboro pose a public safety threat, have been searching for a site for a tower since shortly after the county's 800 Megahertz 911 emergency communications system was put into operation in July 1997. The system employs seven towers to carry radio transmissions to all parts of the county.

Firefighters and police must rely on an older, low-band radio system in low-lying areas near Lineboro. County officials, pursuing a tower that would beam signals into those hard-to-reach areas, have looked at more than 20 sites from northeast Carroll to York, Pa., where Lineboro sometimes takes ambulance patients.

Firefighters have criticized county Public Safety Director Howard S. Redman for not moving faster on the tower project.

Marianne Warehime, president of Lineboro Volunteer Fire Department, said she was happy to hear that the county was moving forward.

"I would certainly hope that whatever they have would be a great benefit to Lineboro and other areas that need the coverage, even Hampstead and Manchester," Warehime said. "I hope it would alleviate the problems so that we can function in a better and safer manner for all concerned."

The property optioned for purchase by the county is a 3-acre plot on Rupp Road off Alesia-Lineboro Road owned by Chris and Tina Horrigan, Myers said.

"It's hard to say any property will solve all the problems, but this is as good as any we've looked at," Redman said.

If the purchase is completed, officials would have to decide the tower's exact location and how tall it should be, and they would have to ensure sufficient "falling" area around it to meet zoning requirements, even though it would be built to collapse in on itself rather than fall over, Myers said.

Redman said the tower probably would be between 280 feet and 340 feet tall, depending on the land. A road would have to be built to the site, electricity installed and a license obtained from the Federal Communications Commission.

Equipment for the project has been bought, Redman said. The county had budgeted $750,000 for the tower's construction. The state Management and Budget Department would build the tower at no additional cost to the county, but not until at least July 1, when the new fiscal year begins, Redman said. He hopes construction would begin then.

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