A special use permit allowing a high-speed internet and television service provider to operate as a utility in Greenville has been approved despite citizen concerns about noise from a planned structure.
Metro Fibernet, more commonly known as MetroNet, needed the permit to build an unmanned shelter for its fiber optics equipment on less than a half-acre of property located on Commerce Street, which runs parallel to East Arlington Boulevard east of Evans Street.
The company announced in January that it planned to build a fiber optic network in Greenville. The installation of fiber optics cables began in May. The city Board of Adjustment granted the utility request on Thursday.
Two shelters and a 79-foot antenna will be built on the property. A six-foot tall vinyl fence will surround the structures. A generator also will be onsite to operate the building’s cooling system if electricity goes out.
Three special conditions were required for issuing the permit. Lead Planner Elizabeth Blount said the fence has to be continuous and opaque so the structures aren’t visible, sound levels can not exceed 65 decibels and the shelters must be a neutral color to blend in with the surrounding area.
The generator noise concerned Susan McCrea and Christopher Jenkins, who own businesses adjoining the Commerce Street location.
McCrea, who owns a pain management clinic with her husband, said a treatment room is near the property boundary and she worried noise from the facility could increase their patients’ stress.
Jenkins, whose business offers management consulting and accounting services, said the noise would distract employees and customers.
McCrea said she used a phone app to measure the ambient sound levels along a driveway her property shares with the Metro site. The reading was 50-52 decibels.
She then set up a portable generator which could be heard inside their building.
She asked what could be done to mitigate the noise.
Dan Neppl, Metro Fibernet’s vice president of construction, said the generator is tested once a week for an hour as part of its maintenance but otherwise it only operates when the city’s electric system is down.
It was suggested that Metro Fibernet only conduct the testing when the businesses were closed. Adjustment board member Ann Bellis said a residential neighborhood also was near the location so testing late in the evening or early morning would disturb people living there.
It was suggested the testing be done at 7:30 a.m. on a weekday morning and that it be added to the required conditions.
Adjustment board member Hunt McKinnon lobbied for requiring a sound absorption wall be added to the fencing. Neppl said he believed the fencing would be sufficient and sound absorption should only be required if the fencing was insufficient.
When it came time to vote on the special use permit, no one asked that the time requirement for the generator testing be added to the conditions. The permit was approved 6-1 without that addition.
McKinnon was the one member to vote against the permit.
The board did unanimously approve a special use permit allowing Ocean Reef Investment to operate a vehicle rental business at 1641 S.E. Greenville Blvd. There was no opposition to the request.