Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
After soliciting public comment over the last two months, Macon County Commissioners approved during last week’s meeting an application for Verizon Wireless to construct a new cell tower.
The application was submitted by Verizon Wireless and will be located at 575 C.R. Cabe Road. The 175 foot tower will be single pole, with no camoflouge — something the commissioners had a hard time with.
“I’m going to reluctantly support this motion,” said Commission Vice Chair Ronnie Beale. “I do think it will benefit the county as a whole. I think if we set the pattern of refusing these we’re in trouble. But I do think it could have been disguised and for no reason. I mean you’re talking about a company that grossed $30 billion and to say they can’t camouflage a 175 foot pole, I don’t buy that.”
Franklin resident Diane Dodge who lives on Dowdle Knob and is neighbor to the property owner who has signed a contract with Verizon for the cell tower sent a letter to the county voicing her objection to its construction. She explained that the proposed cell tower would impact the view she has from her residence which she built in the 60’s. She claimed that the tower would impact what she coined as a “million-dollar view.” In her letter, Dodge urged commissioners to not vote on the issue at their July meeting.
“First, I would like to ask you for some time,” said Dodge. “The neighbors that were not contacted by mail have the right to learn about this before it is a done deal. I just learned about this a few days ago, and I need more time to pursue options and arguments to present my case.”
“Second, I want to ask for a reduction in height,” she added. “This is an open valley, and they should not need the maximum height to reach maximum coverage. At the proposed height, the tower will be level with my house.”
Speaking on behalf of Verizon, James LaPann, zoning specialist from Faulk and Foster Real Estate explained the despite some opposition, Verizon’s application is compliant with county zoning laws.
“We have prepared an ordinance compliance statement taking each part of the ordinance and stating how we have proven we are complying with the ordinance,” said LaPann. “We have also submitted drawings designed by engineers licensed in the state of North Carolina. We have general plans and the specific tower design showing how the metal will be designed for each foot of it as requested by the jurisdiction.”
LePann explained that the design of the tower was standard for the company and will feature galvanized steel, with no light and enclosed with fencing topped with barbed wire. In addition, Verizon has leased another 200 feet around the tower to provide a second safety ring around the tower.