SP 2004-00020 Elizabeth Bright-ALLTEL Turner Mountain Road (Sign #27) - Request for special use permit to allow the construction of a personal wireless facility.  The applicant proposes to construct monopole approximately 110 feet tall.  Ground mounted equipment will be located adjacent to the pole.  The proposed diameter of the pole is approximately 30.5 inches at the base and 14.5 inches at the top.  This application is being made in accordance with Section 10.2.2.6 of the Zoning Ordinance, which allows for microwave and radio-wave transmission and relay towers in the Rural Areas District.  The property, described as Tax Map 58, Parcel 61A, contains 5.2 acres, and is zoned RA, Rural Areas.  The property is located on the east side of Rt. 676 (Tillman Road), approximately 0.25 miles north of Rt. 250 (Ivy Road), in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 3.  (Stephen Waller)

 

Mr. Waller stated that the applicant was proposing the installation of a personal wireless service facility that would include a metal monopole that would be approximately 100 feet in total height with the top height of approximately 912.5 feet Above Mean Sea Level.  This would result in a monopole that was approximately 6.4 feet taller than a near by 90.5 foot tall tree identified on the applicant’s construction plans as tree number 81.  The monopole would be equipped with one array of three 7.9-foot long by 8.1 inch wide flush-mounted panel antennas at its top.  Supporting ground equipment would be contained within two 5.5.-foot tall and 4.5-foot wide cabinets on a 96 square foot concrete pad and a smaller cabinet on a 5 square foot pad.  The lease area for the proposed facility is located on a 500 square foot wooded area and is situated below and to the west of the ridge line of Turner Mountain, which peaks at 920 feet Above Sea Level. The site is also in close proximity to an existing Triton Facility, which is shown on the applicant’s construction plans a little to the south of the proposed site.

 

Staff notes that this application was originally submitted with a request to allow a 110 foot tall monopole that would have been located to the west of the currently proposed site.  However, during the first balloon test for that proposal staff recognized that the monopole structure would have had some adverse visual impacts because it would have appeared to be a lot taller than the surrounding trees and it also would have been skylighted from certain points along Morgantown Road.  Both staff and the applicant met with one of the near by property owners who was also available to view the balloon test.  Based on some of the concerns that staff and that property owner had, the applicant went back and reworked the site and found a new location and also lowered the proposed height from the ground level to the top of the monopole by 10 feet. 

 

Staff has identified the following factors, which are favorable to this request. 

1.                   The applicant has worked with staff in choosing this particular site and the proposed monopole height in order to alleviate the concerns for visual impacts that were expressed with the originally submitted proposal;

2.                   The second test balloon floated at the proposed height of the monopole was visible well below the ridgeline from parcels located to the south;

3.                   The proposed monopole for this facility would be approximately 8 feet lower in total height AMSL than the existing Triton facility on this property; and,

4.                   This site would be accessed from the gravel road serving the existing Triton facility.

 

The following factors are relevant to this consideration:

 

1.                   There are several historic properties and structures located near this site;

2.                   Approval of this proposal would introduce the second personal wireless facility on the subject parcel; and,

3.                   There are existing and reasonable by-right uses that could be established on the subject property.

 

Staff added that based on some correspondence with an adjoining property owner, the applicant has provided an updated set of plans showing some additional screening to the east of the ground equipment.  Staff recommends the addition of language that was identical to the language that was approved for the original site with one change to the wording.  The facility shall be screened from the property line located to the east with a species of shade tolerant screening trees to be approved by the Planning Division’s landscape planner. Vegetation provided for such screening shall consist of a double staggered row of trees planted 15 feet on center.  The applicant has already provided a plan showing some vegetation that would be installed to meet that requirement and to address that neighboring property owner’s concerns.  The applicant is present to answer any questions.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if there were any questions for Mr. Waller.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if the existing pole on site metal or wooden.

 

Mr. Waller stated that it was metal.

 

Mr. Rieley asked how far away the monopole would be.

 

Mr. Waller stated that the existing metal monopole was approximately 21 feet to the proposed monopole location.

 

Mr. Thomas opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission. 

 

Pete Caramanis, representative for Alltel, stated that this was a revised proposal from what was originally submitted.  There was some unsuspected skylighting during the first balloon test where the monopole was visible from several locations.  Alltel went back and basically reviewed every other possible location on the property to try to minimize the visibility.  He pointed out that it was his understanding that was what Triton also had to do with their application to come up with their current location.  He pointed out that location had been well received by the surrounding neighbors.  Alltel basically has reached the same result, which is that is the best location.  The proposed tower, as staff said, is lower in height than the originally proposed tower and the existing Triton tower.  Unfortunately, it is able to be placed in a location where there are not very many trees and the only large trees that are there are dead.  The only two large trees that are to be removed are dead and currently bare.  Those trees are not providing any screening to the existing site or to the proposed site either.  The second balloon test was viewed from many locations near and far to the site. They received comments from staff and Mr. Harvey Wilcox indicating that they were pleased with the results and that it would not be very visible at all.  Actually, it would be less visible than the existing tower from many locations. At no locations did they find it to be more visible than the existing tower.  This is a metal monopole, which is consistent with what is there.  In fact, what they were proposing would be a slimmer monopole at the top.  The existing monopole has a cap on it, which looks like it was built for possible extension.  But, their proposed monopole would not be built that way.  He pointed out that they received a letter after the balloon test from Mr. Wilcox, which asked if they would be willing to plant some plantings around the ground level of the site to make sure that it would not be visible.  It is fairly well screened as it is, but Alltel does not have any problem in making those plantings. Mr. Waller has already come up with a plan showing those plants.  The plan shows Leyland Cyprus and they have had some success with those in the past.  Alltel would be willing to plant whatever species that the Commission deems best.  He thanked staff for working closely with them in revising this site to best suit everybody’s desires.  He asked that the Commission recommend approval on this application.

 

Mr. Thomas invited public comment on this application.

 

Harvey Wilcox, an adjacent property owner, complimented staff and the applicant for the work that they have done.  It is really as nice an installation as they could figure out how to do it on this site.  He stated that none of the neighbors are terribly enthusiastic about having a second tower in the neighborhood, but many of them grudgingly confess that among all of the alternatives in the area, this is a very unobtrusive site.  The adjustments that Mr. Waller and Mr. Caramanis made slightly to the north and west made it even more so.  The second balloon test was very good.  Therefore, he was optimistic that it would be less visible than even the existing tower.  He thanked staff for his cooperation in obtaining the additional screening.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if there was any further public comment.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back to the Commission for discussion and a possible action.

 

Mr. Rieley supported the application in some limited context.  He raised the issue of the metal poles versus the wood poles.  In general, he thought that metal poles should be allowed only in limited conditions.  One is as in this condition where there is an existing metal pole already there and they would not be gaining anything in the visibility by switching to a different material. The other condition is when there is a pressing reason on why the wires should be inside. In other words, there is not a back side to put the wires on.  Other than that, he felt that they should hold out for wooden poles because they were so much less reflective.  Wooden poles catch and reflect so much less light.  In this application he was particularly gratified that this pole was not obviously oversized for future extension as so many of the metal poles that they have seen in the past have been.  This one may be able to be extended, but it was not grossly apparent in the same manner that some of the other ones are.  He suggested that another species be chosen other than a Leyland Cyprus simply because it was subject to a pest that kills it and that they are dropping like flies all over the country side.

 

Ms. Higgins asked that another item be added to the list about limited circumstances because there were occasions where either the access due to its steepness or geometric that you could not get a solid wooden pole. She would hate to see someone have to build up a roadway and take out more trees on a path because they could not get a wooden pole in to the site.  She asked that this situation be taken into consideration.

 

Mr. Rieley suggested that it be acknowledged that it was always easier to bring a metal pole onto a site in pieces than it is to bring a long one in.  But, just because it was easier in a given condition he did not think that was enough.  He agreed with Ms. Higgins that there were circumstances where it was just utterly impractical to do it.

 

Ms. Higgins moved for approval of SP-2004-00020, Elizabeth Bright-ALLTEL Turner Mountain Road, with the conditions as stated by staff.

 

Mr. Rieley seconded the motion.

 

Ms. Joseph requested that it be clarified that the motion included the added condition concerning the screening.

 

Ms. Higgins amended the motion for approval to include the added condition and that the species is administratively approved by staff.

 

The facility shall be designed, constructed and maintained as follows:

 

1.                   With the exception of any minor changes that would be required in order to comply with the conditions listed herein, the facility including the monopole, the ground equipment building, and any antennas shall be sized, located and built as shown on the concept plan entitled, “Alltel - Turner Mountain Road Site (Bright Property),” last revised on August 9, 2004 and provided in this staff report with Attachment A.

2.                   The calculation of pole height shall include any base, foundation or grading that raises the pole above the pre-existing, natural ground elevation.

3.                   The top of the pole, as measured Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL), shall not exceed seven (7) feet above the top of the tallest tree within twenty-five feet, identified as number 81 on the tree survey (Sheet C7).  In no case shall the pole exceed 100 feet in total height at the time of installation without prior approval of an amendment to this special use permit or personal wireless facility permit.

4.                   The diameter of the monopole shall not exceed 30-1/2 inches at its base, and 15 inches at the top.

5.                   The metal monopole shall be painted a brown wood color that is consistent with the trees surrounding the site.

6.                   The ground equipment cabinets, antennas, concrete pad and all equipment attached to the pole shall be the same color as the pole and shall be no larger than the specifications set forth in the application plans.

7.                   Only flush-mounted antennas shall be permitted.  No antennas that project out from the pole beyond the minimum required by the support structure, shall be permitted.  However, in no case shall the distance between the face of the pole and the faces of the antennas be more than 12 inches.

8.                   No satellite or microwave dishes shall be permitted on the monopole.

9.                   No antennas or equipment, with the exception of a grounding rod, not to exceed one-inch in diameter and twelve (12) inches in height, shall be located above the top of the pole.

10.               No guy wires shall be permitted.

11.               No lighting shall be permitted on the site or on the pole, except as herein provided.  Outdoor lighting shall be limited to periods of maintenance only.  Each outdoor luminaire shall be fully shielded such that all light emitted is projected below a horizontal plane running though the lowest part of the shield or shielding part of the luminaire.  For the purposes of this condition, a luminaire is a complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps together with the parts designed to distribute the light, to position and protect the lamps, and to connect the lamps to the power supply.

12.               The permittee shall comply with section 5.1.12 of the Zoning Ordinance.  Fencing of the lease area shall not be permitted.

13.               Size specifications and other details, including schematic elevations of the equipment cabinets shall be included in the construction plan package.

14.               Site grading and all construction around the facility shall be minimized to only provide the amount of space that will be necessary for placement of the monopole and equipment cabinets.  Graveling of the total lease area shall not be permitted, and all grading and construction activity shall remain outside of the drip lines of the trees that are to remain.

15.               The facility shall be screened from the property line located to the east with a species of shade tolerant screening trees to be approved by the Planning Division Landscape Planner.  Vegetation provided for such screening shall consist of a double staggered row of trees, planted fifteen (15) feet on center; and

 

Prior to the issuance of a building permit, the following requirements shall be met:

 

16.               The applicant shall submit a recorded fall zone easement in accordance Section 5.1.40b.

17.               Certification by a registered surveyor stating the height of the reference tree that has been used to justify the height of the monopole shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

18.               Prior to beginning construction or installation of the pole, the equipment cabinets or vehicular or utility access, an amended tree conservation plan, developed by a certified arborist shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator for approval.  The plan shall specify tree protection methods and procedures, and identify any existing trees to be removed on the site - both inside and outside the access easement and lease area.  All construction or installation associated with the pole and equipment pad, including necessary access for construction or installation, shall be in accordance with this tree conservation plan.  Except for the tree removal expressly authorized by the Director of Planning and Community Development, the permittee shall not remove existing trees within two hundred (200) feet of the pole and equipment pad.  A special use permit amendment shall be required for any future tree removal within the two hundred-foot buffer, after the installation of the subject facility.

19.               With the building permit application, the applicant shall submit the final revised set of site plans for construction of the facility.  During the review of the application, Planning staff shall review the revised plans to ensure that all appropriate conditions of the special use permit have been addressed.

 

After the completion of the pole installation and prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy or to any facility operation, the following shall be met:

 

20.               Certification by a registered surveyor stating the height of the pole, measured both in feet above ground level and in elevation above sea-level (ASL) using the benchmarks or reference datum identified in the application shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

21.               Certification confirming that the grounding rod’s: a) height does not exceed two feet above the monopole; and, b) width does not exceed a diameter of one-inch, shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

 

22.               No slopes associated with construction of the facility shall be created that are steeper than 2:1 unless retaining walls, revetments, or other stabilization measures acceptable to the County Engineer are employed.

 

After the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, the following requirements shall be met:

 

23.               The applicant, or any subsequent owners of the facility, shall submit a report to the Zoning Administrator by July 1 of each year.  The report shall identify each personal wireless service provider that uses the facility, including a drawing indicating which equipment, on both the tower and the ground, are associated with each provider.

24.               All equipment and antennae from any individual personal wireless service provider shall be disassembled and removed from the site within ninety (90) days of the date its use is discontinued.  The entire facility shall be disassembled and removed from the site within ninety (90) days of the date its use for personal wireless service purposes is discontinued. If the Zoning Administrator determines at any time that surety is required to guarantee that the facility will be removed as required, the permittee shall furnish to the Zoning Administrator a certified check, a bond with surety satisfactory to the County, or a letter of credit satisfactory to the County, in an amount sufficient for, and conditioned upon, the removal of the facility.  The type of surety guarantee shall be to the satisfaction of the Zoning Administrator and the County Attorney.

 

Mr. Rieley seconded the amended motion.

 

The motion carried by a vote of (7:0). 

 

Mr. Thomas stated that SP-2004-00020, Elizabeth Bright- ALLTEL, would be heard by the Board of Supervisors on October 13.                        .

 

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