1 of 2
Photo by Erica Techo
Andy Rotenstrick of Foresight LLC speaks in favor of a new cell phone tower next to the Southpointe subdivision during a Shelby County Planning Commission meeting on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016.
2 of 2
Courtesy of Shelby Planning Commission
A depiction of the potential new tower. The tower would be a 190-foot monopole structure.
A new cell phone tower may soon be constructed off South Shades Crest Road next to the Southpointe subdivision, following a vote by the Shelby County Planning Commission Monday night.
The proposed tower will be a 190-foot-tall monopole with a 9-foot lightning rod on top and is to be built on Walter Anderton's property at 3889 South Shades Crest Road — about two miles from South Shades Crest Elementary School.
Several adjacent property owners sent emails to the Shelby County land development staff voicing concerns about the cell tower, county planner Joshua Johnson said.
“Chief among the concerns are the environmental impact, the location selection and the aesthetics of the tower and site,” Johnson said.
Following Johnson’s presentation of the case, planning commissioners Bob Land and Jim Davis voiced concerns over not having a full site plan or drawing of the tower to show how it would look at that location. While a basic plan for the tower, as well as where it would be located on Anderton’s property, was presented, they could not see how it would fit into the area, they said.
Planning commissioner Bill Kinnebrew noted in prior cases involving wireless telecommunications facilities, the planning commission was presented with a visual plan.
“We did have a proposed look, more than just a monopole — whether it had branches, or just the color,” Kinnebrew said.
Andy Rotenstrick, representing Foresite LLC — the company requesting approval for the tower — spoke following Johnson. He said the purpose of the cell phone tower would be to increase Verizon Wireless cell phone and data coverage in the area.
“We’re also trying to get coverage into Bumpus Middle School, which is a large target area for this site,” Rotenstrick said.
He presented the planning commission with maps which show the location of existing cell towers and coverage, as well as the potential coverage with this new tower in place. He said there are several “outside” or no coverage areas around the tower which would receive better coverage following the installation of the tower.
“As you get further away, you get into the red, and that’s what we call the outdoor or no coverage area,” he said. “That’s where you have to go outside, stand on your left leg and raise your right arm in order to connect your call. Those are the areas we’re really trying to fix here.”
The goal was to make those areas green, he said, meaning users could get a signal inside of buildings in those areas. Rotenstrick said while this tower will be built initially for Verizon Wireless, other wireless companies will be able to add their own antennas to the tower at a later date, boosting the signal for their consumers.
Rotenstrick also presented the planning commission with simulated depictions of the tower in the proposed location. The company had inflated a large blue balloon at the site and then superimposed the look of the proposed tower in its place, and the depictions showed how the tower would look from a variety of angles.
These depictions showed that the tower would not be visible from the north, the top would be visible from the west and the southwest, Rotenstrick said. The base, he said, would not be visible.
Anderton said he didn’t see “how anybody could really have an objection to it.”
Multiple neighboring residents spoke up about the tower, with resident Ian Barnes noting the base of the pole would be visible from his home.
Barnes recently purchased the property and said from the time his family first saw the property to the time they closed on the purchase, several trees were cleared, making an opening in which the tower would be visible.
“My request, if the tower is built, is to paint it brown,” he said.
Rotenstrick said he would not recommend that, as the brown would make a stark contrast against the sky. The planning commission asked about the possibility of planting new shrubs or trees around the fence which would enclose the tower and other equipment, and Rotenstrick and Anderton said that would be possible.
Another resident said he felt the information presented before the planning commission was not properly relayed to residents it would affect. Rotenstrick said most of the information had been with the county since July 1.
A third resident, Jeff Brown, said he wanted to check that all other potential sites had been considered, including a volunteer fire station a few miles up the road. This location, Rotenstrick said, was out of the range in which they were hoping to place the tower.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the request, with Kinnebrew adding a condition that heavy landscaping be required for the two sides of the tower’s fencing which would face adjacent residential properties.
Johnson said the proposed tower met all required setbacks from property lines. However, a fully-engineered site plan, including landscaping plans, will have to be submitted before a building permit is issued, he said.
The Planning Commission also on Monday night approved the resurvey and resubdivision of two lots in Montalbano Estates, located in the 5000 block of Caldwell Mill Road. The resurvey made Lot 3 2.83 acres in size, bringing a portion of Lot 7 into it, and divided the remaining property in Lot 7 into two parcels — one 2.53 acres and one 2.4 acres in size.
The next Planning Commission meeting is set for Sept. 19.