ALBEMARLE COUNTY PLANNING

STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  SP 07-038: Carrsbrook (ATC) –Verizon Tier III PWSF

Staff:  Gerald Gatobu

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

November 13, 2007

Board of Supervisors Hearing:

January 9, 2008

Owners:  Monticello Media, LLC

Applicant: American Tower Corporation/Verizon

Acreage: 10.375 (TMP 46-15)

(Lease Area is part of this larger piece)

Rezone from: Not applicable

Special Use Permit for: Sec. 10.2.2 (48) which allows for Tier III personal wireless facilities in the RA Zoning District

TMP:  Tax Map 46, Parcel 15

Location:  Directly across the entrance to Forest Lakes South and accessed from a gravel road that extends approximately 865 feet west from the southbound lane of U.S. Route 29 approximately 114-miles north of the bridge that crosses over the South fork of the Rivanna River.

By-right use: RA, Rural Areas;  Property also has an existing Special Use Permit last amended as SP 03-026, for co-location of an array of nine new antennae.

Magisterial District: Rio

Proffers/Conditions: Yes

Requested # of Dwelling Lots: N/A

DA –                   RA – Yes

Proposal: co-location of one new array consisting of six (6) new antennas at approximately 140 feet on an existing 180-foot tall lattice tower with additional supporting ground equipment

Comp. Plan Designation: The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 1.

Character of Property: The property is mostly cleared with few wooded areas and several AM Radio frequency towers.

Use of Surrounding Properties:  All adjacent properties are residential (zoned RA) with the nearest dwelling unit approximately 750 feet to the northeast of the site.

Factors Favorable: see report

Factors Unfavorable: see report

RECOMMENDATION:

Staff recommends approval with conditions as presented in the Staff Report.

 

 

 

STAFF PERSON:                                    Gerald Gatobu 

 

PLANNING COMMISSION:                      November 13, 2007

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                   January 9, 2008

 

AGENDA TITLE:                                     SP 2007-038 Carrsbrook ATC –Verizon Tier III PWSF

 

APPLICANT:                                          American Tower Corporation/Verizon

PROPERTY OWNER(S):                          Monticello Media, LLC

                               

APPLICANT’S PROPOSAL:

The applicant's proposal is for the co-location of one new array consisting of six (6) new antennas at approximately 140 feet on an existing 180-foot tall lattice tower with additional supporting ground equipment (Attachment A). Transmitting equipment will be housed within a prefabricated shelter that has measurements of 12’x 20’x 10.58’ (W x L x H) and a stand-alone emergency power generator will also be set at the tower’s base. The property, described as Tax Map 46 - Parcel 15, contains approximately 10.375 acres, and is zoned RA, Rural Areas (Attachment B). This site is located in the Rio Magisterial District, directly across from the entrance to Forest Lakes South and is accessed from a gravel road that extends approximately 865 feet west from the southbound lane of U.S. Route 29 approximately 114-miles north of the bridge that crosses over the South fork of the Rivanna River.

 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN:

The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 1.

 

REASON FOR PLANNING COMMISSION REVIEW:

SECTION: 10.2.2 (48) of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for Tier III personal wireless facilities in the Rural Areas [RA] Zoning District by Special Use Permit. Section 31.2.4.2 requires Commission review of applications for Special Use Permit.

 

PLANNING AND ZONING HISTORY: 

SP 80-75 Clay Media, 1nc.- At it's meeting on January 19, 1983, the Board of Supervisors granted approval of the five guyed radio towers for WCHV that are located on this property.

 

SP 97-13 360" Communications - At it's meeting on July 18, 1997, the Board of Supervisors granted approval of this special use permit to allow construction of the tower with a maximum height of 200 feet tall that is subject to this request (Attachment C).

 

SP 03-26 “Omnipoint (ATC Charlottesville)” At its meeting on August 13, 2003, the Board of Supervisors granted approval of this special use permit with conditions to allow the co-location of a new array consisting of nine (9) new antennas at approximately 155 feet on an existing 180-foot tall lattice tower with additional supporting ground equipment (Attachment D).

 

DISCUSSION:

The proposed array of antennae would be installed at approximately 140 feet above ground level on an existing tower owned by American Tower Company. The lease area is on property owned by Monticello Media LLC. SP 97-13 approved construction of a tower with a maximum height of 200 feet. The facility was constructed in 1997 and currently has three other arrays of panel antennae that are attached at 150 feet, 160 feet and 178 feet with brackets that set them at more than 12 inches from the tower. In addition to the tower, there is an existing 12-foot by 28-foot equipment building housing ground equipment for other service providers located within a compound that is surrounded by an 8-foot tall chain-link fence in a wooded area. There are also five guyed radio towers on the property.

 

The site is approximately 525 feet above sea level (ASL), and is directly across from the entrance to Forest Lakes South. The site is accessed from a gravel road that extends approximately 865 feet west from the southbound lane of U.S. Route 29 approximately 114-mile north of the bridge that crosses over the South fork of the Rivanna River .All of the adjacent properties to the north and west of this site are zoned Rural Areas, while the residentially zoned properties of Forest Lakes South are located to the east and commercially zoned properties are located south of the bridge crossing the Rivanna River. Although the area immediately surrounding the facility is wooded with a majority of deciduous trees that assist in screening the view of the ground equipment buildings, the tower itself is much taller than those trees and can be seen from varying distances along U.S. Route 29.

ANALYSIS OF THE SPECIAL USE PERMIT REQUEST:

Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance below requires that special use permits be reviewed as follows:

 

Will the use be of substantial detriment to adjacent property?

As a result of the antennae’s location on an existing tower with similar facilities, it is staff’s opinion that the proposal would not impose any additional substantial detriment to adjacent property.  None of the proposed changes will increase the height or visual impact of the tower. The proposed antennae will be the lowest array on the existing tower. The ground equipment shelter will be screened from adjacent properties by existing trees. Installation of the facility will not require the removal of any vegetation.

 

Will the character of the zoning district change with this use?

The site of the proposed facility is already fully constructed and requires no additional land disturbance or increase in tower height. Additionally there are five taller AM radio towers located to the south of the lease area compound. There are three existing personal wireless service antennae on this tower. The addition of another array of antennae should not impact the character of the district. 

 

Will the use be in harmony with the purpose and intent of the zoning ordinance?

Staff has reviewed this request as it relates to the “purpose and intent” that is set forth in Sections 1.4.4 and 1.4.7 of the Zoning Ordinance, and as it relates to the intent specified in the Rural Areas chapter of the Zoning Ordinance (Section 10.1).  This request is consistent with both sections.

 

Will the use be in harmony with the uses permitted by right in the district?

The existing tower is located on an “Antenna Farm” originally established over twenty five years ago. No significant adverse impacts on adjacent properties in the (RA) Rural Area district are anticipated. The proposed co-location on this tower will not restrict any nearby by-right uses within the Rural Areas district. The existing tower is in the Airport Impact Area. Approval of the additional array of antennae will not impact the height of the tower, and Airport traffic will not be hindered in any way.

 

 

Will the use comply with the additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance?

Section 5.1.12(a) of the Zoning Ordinance addresses the installation of public utility structures such as towers and antennas by stating, in part, that those items shall not endanger the health and safety of workers and/or residents, and will not impair or prove detrimental to neighboring properties.  In order to operate this facility, the applicant is required to comply with all of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines that are intended to protect the public health and safety from high levels of radio frequency emissions and electromagnetic fields that are associated with wireless broadcasting and telecommunications facilities.

 

Will the public health, safety and general welfare of the community be protected if the use is approved?

The public health, safety, and general welfare of the community is protected through the special use permit process, which assures that uses approved by special use permit are appropriate in the location requested.  In this case, the proposed facility will give Verizon the ability to offer another choice of personal wireless service communication by providing a full range of voice and data services in addition to the required E911 call services. This can be seen as contributing to the public health, safety and welfare on a regional level.

 

Compliance with Section 5.1.40 of the Zoning Ordinance:

 

The county’s specific design criteria for Tier III facilities as set forth in section 5.1.40 (e) are addressed as follows.

 

Section 5.1.40 (e) Tier III facilities. Each Tier III facility may be established upon approval of a special use permit issued pursuant to section 31.2.4 of this chapter, initiated upon an application satisfying the requirements of subsection 5.1.40(a) and section 31.2.4, and it shall be installed and operated in compliance with all applicable provisions of this chapter and the following:

 

1. The facility shall comply with subsection 5.1.40(b) subsection 5.1.40(c)(2) through (9) and subsection 5.1.40 (d)(2),(3),(6) and (7), unless modified by the board of supervisors during special use permit review.

2. The facility shall comply with all conditions of approval of the special use permit.

 

Requirements of subsection 5.1.40(a) application for approval and section 31.2.4 special use permits have been met. Compliance with Section 5.1.40(e) of the Zoning Ordinance: The County's specific design criteria for Tier III facilities set forth in Section 5.1.40(e)(1) and 5.1.40(e)(2) are addressed as follows: [Ordinance sections are in italics]

 

Subsection 5.1.40(b) (1-5): Exemption from regulations otherwise applicable: Except as otherwise exempted in this paragraph, each facility shall be subject to all applicable regulations in this chapter.

 

The proposed PWSF will be installed at site that already has an existing tower. Verizon's equipment shelter will be installed completely within the fence that surrounds American Tower Corporation's compound and will meet the required Rural Areas setbacks in addition to all other area and bulk regulations and minimum yard requirements. Attached site drawings, antennae and equipment specifications have been provided to demonstrate that personal wireless service facilities (PWSF) regulations and any relevant site plan requirements set forth in Section 32 of the zoning ordinance have been addressed.

 

Subsection 5.1.40(c)(2): The facility shall be designed, constructed and maintained as follows: (i) guy wires shall not be permitted; (ii) outdoor lighting for the facility shall be permitted only during maintenance periods; regardless of the lumens emitted, each outdoor luminaire shall be fully shielded as required by section 4.17 of this chapter; (iii) any equipment cabinet not located within the existing structure shall be screened from all lot lines either by terrain, existing structures, existing vegetation, or by added vegetation approved by the county’s landscape planner; (iv) a whip antenna less than six (6) inches in diameter may exceed the height of the existing structure; (v) a grounding rod, whose height shall not exceed two (2) feet and whose width shall not exceed one (1) inch in diameter at the base and tapering to a point, may be installed at the top of facility or the structure; and (vi) within one month after the completion of the installation of the facility, the applicant shall provide a statement to the agent certifying that the height of all components of the facility complies with this regulation.

 

The proposed personal wireless service facility (PWSF) does not require the installation of guyed wires on the existing tower and the facility does not include any whip antennas prior to any further County approvals. The tower proposed for this co-location already has adequate grounding. The facility will only have one outdoor light fixture attached to the proposed shelter and it will only be used by Verizon's technical operations staff during times when night-time maintenance of the site is necessary.

 

Verizon Wireless' construction management team is currently in the process of obtaining the design specifications for an after-market shielding device that complies with the County’s lighting requirements.

 

Subsection 5.1.40(C)(3): Equipment shall be attached to the exterior of a structure only as follows: (i) the total number of arrays of antennas attached to the existing structure shall not exceed three (3), and each antenna proposed to be attached under the pending application shall not exceed the size shown on the application, which size shall not exceed one thousand one hundred fifty two (1152) square inches; (ii) no antenna shall project from the structure beyond the minimum required by the mounting equipment, and in no case shall any point on the face of an antenna project more than twelve (12) inches from the existing structure; and (iii) each antenna and associated equipment shall be a color that matches the existing structure. For purposes of this section, all types of antennas and dishes regardless of their use shall be counted toward the limit of three arrays.

 

Because Verizon’s facility will be the fourth antennae installation on the tower, a special use permit is required. Verizon is also requesting that the Board of Supervisors allow a modification of the flush-mounting requirements in order to allow the installation of a full sectored antenna array. If allowed, the full array will enable Verizon to provide a level of quality service that is consistent and competitive with that provided by other carriers on this site.

 

The proposed antennae configuration will consist of a full sectored array containing six (6) panel antennas with the capability of expanding up to 12 (4 per sector) as the need for increased signal capacity arises. The Anphenol Ante1 antennas are identified as model number BSA-185090/12 and have a measurement of 70.9" x 3.9" x 2.0" (L x W x D), giving each antenna an area of approximately 276.5 square inches. Each sector of antennae will be installed using low-profile TTA stand-off arms with pipe-mount brackets that will allow for required amount of electrical down-tilting while ensuring that the spacing between the tower and antenna faces will be consistent with that of the existing arrays of other carriers at the site. All antennae will be painted to match the color of the tower.

 

Subsection 5.1.40(c)(4): Prior to issuance of a building permit, the applicant shall submit a tree conservation plan prepared by a certified arborist. The plan shall be submitted to the agent for review and approval to assure that all applicable requirements have been satisfied. The plan shall specify tree protection methods and procedures, and identify all existing trees to be removed on the parcel for the installation, operation and maintenance of the facility. Except for the tree removal expressly authorized by the agent, the applicant shall not remove existing trees within the lease area or within one hundred (100) feet in all directions surrounding the lease area of any part of the facility. In addition, the agent may identify additional trees or lands up to two hundred (200) feet from the lease area to be included in the plan.

 

Neither site access nor installation of the facility will require the removal of any trees. All construction will be kept completely within the fenced lease area.

 

Verizon is requesting that the Board of Supervisors allow a modification of the requirements for a tree conservation plan, as no additional land disturbance is being proposed

 

Subsection 5.1.40(c)(5)The installation, operation and maintenance of the facility shall be conducted in accordance with the tree conservation plan. Dead and dying trees identified by the arborist’s report may be removed if so noted on the tree conservation plan. If tree removal is later requested that was not approved by the agent when the tree conservation plan was approved, the applicant shall submit an amended plan. The agent may approve the amended plan if the proposed tree removal will not adversely affect the visibility of the facility from any location off of the parcel. The agent may impose reasonable conditions to assure that the purposes of this paragraph are achieved.

 

Neither site access nor installation of the facility will require the removal of any trees. All construction will be kept completely within the fenced lease area.

 

Verizon is requesting that the Board of Supervisors allow a modification of the requirements for a tree conservation plan, as no additional land disturbance is being proposed

 

Subsection 5.1.40(C)(6): The 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 agent determines at any time that surety is required to guarantee that the facility will be removed as required, the agent may require that the parcel owner or the owner of the facility submit a certified check, a bond with surety, or a letter of credit, in an amount sufficient for, and conditioned upon, the removal of the facility. The type and form of the surety guarantee shall be to the satisfaction of the agent and the county attorney. In determining whether surety should be required, the agent shall consider the following: (i) the annual report states that the tower or pole is no longer being used for personal wireless service facilities; (ii) the annual report was not filed; (iii) there is a change in technology that makes it likely that tower or pole will be unnecessary in the near future; (iv) the permittee fails to comply with applicable regulations or conditions; (v) the permittee fails to timely remove another tower or pole within the county; and (vi) whenever otherwise deemed necessary by the agent.

 

Should use of the antennae site in this location become discontinued at anytime in the future, Verizon and/or its assignee(s) will be required to remove the facility within 90 days.

 

Subsection 5.1.40(c)(7): The owner of the facility shall submit a report to the agent by no earlier than May or and no later than July 1 of each year. The report shall identify each user of the existing structure, and include a drawing, photograph or other illustration identifying which equipment is owned and/or operated by each personal wireless service provider. Multiple users on a single tower or other mounting structure may submit a single report, provided that the report includes a statement signed by a representative from each user acquiescing in the report.

 

After the proposed PWSF has been installed, Verizon will cooperate with the American Tower Corporation to ensure that the required annual report accurately accounts for all equipment that Verizon maintains at the site.

 

Subsection 5.1.40(C)(8): No slopes associated with the installation of the facility and accessory uses shall be created that are steeper than 2:1 unless retaining walls, revetments, or other stabilization measures acceptable to the county engineer are employed.

 

The site is already graded and contains adequate area for Verizon's equipment installation.

 

Subsection 5.1.40(c)(9): Any equipment cabinet not located within an existing building shall be fenced only with the approval of the agent upon finding that the fence: (i) would protect the facility from trespass in areas of high volumes of vehicular or pedestrian traffic or, in the rural areas, to protect the facility from livestock or wildlife; (ii) would not be detrimental to the character of the area; and (iii) would not be detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare.

 

The tower site is already enclosed within a chain link security fence and Verizon's equipment will be fully contained within the fence.

 

Section 5.1.40(d)(2): The site shall provide adequate opportunities for screening and the facility shall be sited to minimize its visibility from adjacent parcels and streets, regardless of their distance from the facility. If the facility would be visible from a state scenic river or a national park or national forest, regardless of whether the site is adjacent thereto, the facility also shall be sited to minimize its visibility from such river, park or forest. If the facility would be located on lands subject to a conservation easement or an open space easement, or adjacent to a conservation easement or open space easement, the facility shall be sited so that it is not visible from any resources specifically identified for protection in the deed of easement.

 

The site of this proposed facility is screened on its northern and western sides by a tree line that surrounds the compound. The only open views of the compound are from the existing AM radio broadcasting building to the east and the radio tower farm to the south and both of those features are also surrounded by vegetation. No trees will be removed to install the facility. Therefore, the view of Verizon's equipment shelter will be obscured from nearby public roads and adjacent residential properties.

 

Section 5.1.40(d)(3): The facility shall not adversely impact resources identified in the county’s open space plan.

 

The proposed co-location of Verizon's antennae and equipment should not impose any adverse impacts upon open space resources.

 

Section 5.1.40(d)(6): The top of the monopole, measured in elevation above mean sea level, shall not exceed the height approved by the commission. The approved height shall not be more than seven (7) feet taller than the tallest tree within twenty-five (25) feet of the monopole, and shall include any base, foundation or grading that raises the pole above the pre-existing natural ground elevation; provided that the height approved by the commission may be up to ten (10) feet taller than the tallest tree if the owner of the facility demonstrates to the satisfaction of the commission that there is not a material difference in the visibility of the monopole at the proposed height, rather than at a height seven (7) feet taller than the tallest tree; and there is not a material difference in adverse impacts to resources identified in the county’s open space plan caused by the monopole at the proposed height, rather than at a height seven (7) feet taller than the tallest tree. The applicant may appeal the commissioner’s denial of a modification to the board of supervisors as provided in subsection 5.1.40(d)(12).

 

The proposed facility will utilize an existing structure for its antenna mount.

 

Section 5.1.40(d)(7): Each wood monopole shall be a dark brown natural wood color; each metal or concrete monopole shall be painted a brown wood color to blend into the surrounding trees. The antennas, supporting brackets, and all other equipment attached to the monopole shall be a color that closely matches that of the monopole. The ground equipment, the ground equipment cabinet, and the concrete pad shall also be a color that closely matches that of the monopole, provided that the ground equipment and the concrete pad need not be of such a color if they are enclosed within or behind an approved structure, façade or fencing that: (i) is a color that closely matches that of the monopole; (ii) is consistent with the character of the area; and (iii) makes the ground equipment and concrete pad invisible at any time of year from any other parcel or a public or private street.

 

The antennae will be painted to match the color of the existing tower, which has a galvanized steel finish. All of the ground equipment will be screened from adjacent properties and roadways by existing vegetation.

 

Section 5.1.40(e)2: The facility shall comply with all conditions of approval of the special use permit.

 

The facility complies with all conditions of approval of the special use permit (Section 32.2.4):

           

Section 704(a)(7)(b)(I)(II) of The Telecommunications Act of 1996:

 

This application is subject to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which provides in part that the regulation of the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities by any State or local government or instrumentality thereof (I) shall not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services; (II) shall not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services. 47 U.S.C.

 

In order to operate this facility, the applicant is required to comply with the FCC guidelines for radio frequency emissions that are intended to protect the public health and safety. Neither the Comprehensive Plan nor the Zoning Ordinance prohibits the provision of personal wireless services. However, both do implement specific policies and regulations for the sighting and design of wireless facilities. In its current state, the existing facilities and their mounting structure all offer adequate support for providing personal wireless communication services. The applicant has not provided any additional information regarding the availability, or absence of alternative sites that could serve the same areas that would be covered with the proposed antenna additions at this site. Therefore, staff does not believe that the special use permitting process nor the denial of this application would have the effect of prohibiting or restricting the provision of personal wireless services.

 

SUMMARY OF STAFF REVIEW OF SP 07-038

 

Factors favorable:

 

Staff has identified the following favorable factors:

 

1. The co-location of antennae and equipment subject to this special use permit would not restrict any of the uses that are permitted by right or impose any additional impacts on adjacent properties, particularly if the mounting of future antenna arrays is limited.

 

2. The new ground equipment cabinet will not be visible from areas outside of the facility.

 

3. No clearing or other disturbance is necessary for the placement of the antennas and equipment.

 

4. This proposal represents a co-location opportunity for antennae that are anticipated to have minimal visual impact.

 

5. The proposed antennae would be located at a lower height than the other three existing arrays on the tower.

 

Factors Unfavorable:

 

Staff has identified the following factors as unfavorable to this request:

 

1. The existing tower is visible from various roads and properties located near this property.

 

2. The proposed antennae will not be flush-mounted.

 

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION

Staff recommends approval with the following conditions

 

  1. All work shall be done in general accord with what is described in the applicant's request and site construction plans, entitled “Carrsbrook American Tower Corporation Compound", with a final zoning drawing submittal date of July 19, 2007.

 

  1. The tower shall not be increased in height.

 

  1. The additional array of panel antennas may be attached only as follows:
    1. All equipment attached to the tower shall be painted to match the color of the tower. The cables extending from the ground equipment may remain black.
    2. The antennas shall not exceed seven (7) feet in height and two (2) feet in width.
    3. The antennas shall be set at the minimum distance that is allowed by the mounting equipment, and in no case shall any of the new antennas project from the structure to a distance that is greater than that of the existing antennas.
    4. The antennas and dishes attached to this tower may be replaced administratively, provided that the sizing, mounting distances and heights of the replacement equipment are in compliance with these conditions of approval and in accordance with all applicable regulations set forth in Section 5.1.40 of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

  1. With the exception of any safety lighting required by Federal Aviation Administration regulations, outdoor lighting shall be permitted only during maintenance periods; regardless of the lumens emitted, each outdoor luminaire that is not required for safety shall be fully shielded as required by Section 4.17 of the Zoning Ordinance.
     
  2. No existing trees within 200 feet of the facility shall be removed for the purpose of installing the proposed antennae or any supporting ground equipment.

     
  3. The current owner and any subsequent owners of the tower and its supporting facilities 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.

     
  4. 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.

     
  5. The tower shall be limited to a total of four (4) vertical arrays of panel antennas. No additional relay, satellite or microwave dish antennas shall be permitted on the tower without an amendment of this special use permit.

     
  6. This special use permit must be amended to allow either of the three existing arrays of panel antennas to be:
    1. relocated on the structure;
    2. modified to increase the number or size of panel antennas; or,
    3. modified to increase the distance of the panel antennas from the structure.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

 

  1. Site Plan
  2. Arial Map
  3. SP 97-13 BOS Action Letter
  4. SP 03-26 BOS Action Letter
  5. Photographs of Existing Tower

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