HOOKERTON — Officials decided they needed more information before deciding on a conditional-use permit for a communications tower during Hookerton’s Jan. 5 Board of Commissioners meeting.
Because Hookerton doesn’t have a planning board or board of adjustment, the commissioners held a quasi-judicial public hearing.
Paul Parker, a third-party representative for Tillman Infrastructure, requested the commissioners grant Tillman a conditional-use permit for a cellphone tower to be located at 784 Morris BBQ Road.
The tower would be 313 feet high, which includes the installation of a lighting rod. It also would be a guide tower with three wires supporting the main structure. These supporting wires will be enclosed in a fence.
The tower would be self-collapsing, meaning if damaged, it would collapse upon itself rather than falling on neighboring structures.
Once constructed, the tower would be used by Verizon and AT&T. Other companies have the option of leasing space on the tower, Parker said.
Tillman also could allow local EMS and fire services access to use the tower, Parker said.
A town ordinance allows for a tower to be placed in the town’s agriculture residential zone after receiving a conditional-use permit, said Bob Clark of Nfocus. Nfocus serves as the town’s part-time zoning and planning consultant.
One neighboring property owner attended the meeting and expressed concern about a guide wire’s proximity to his land — it would be about 260 from the property line. He asked why the tower could not be moved farther away.
Clark said the distance s in line with Hookerton’s ordinance, which dictates a 25-foot setback.
The location of the tower was chosen by engineers who worked to find the ideal location to increase efficiency, Parker said, adding it would not work as well if moved to another area.
“It provides the maximum use of the coverage for the carrier. They put it there to maximize the coverage area,” Parker said. “The further they move it away, it will diminish the area.”
The property owner also was concerned the proximity of the tower would hinder his ability to sell his home and that it would diminish the property’s value.
“Unless there is an appraiser here, this type of testimony is not permissible,” Clark said, adding that the quasi-judicial hearing proceeding in a similar manner to a court care in that it focuses on facts rather than opinions.
Parker urged the commissioners not to let emotion hinder their decision and cited the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
“It says if you meet the requirements (of zoning ordinances) it doesn’t matter if you’re upset because the board has to accept it,” he said. “If they turn it down because of emotions, what will happen is the big corporate agenda is going to hire a bunch of suits to come to Hookerton and take away what little money they do have.”
Mayor Bobby Taylor urged the commissioners not to take Parker’s arnings about legal action or the comments made by the property owner into consideration. He urged commissioners to consider Hookerton as a whole.
“What we need to do as a board is what is best for the town of Hookerton,” Taylor said.
Commissioner Sandra Stocks said she could not dismiss the homeowner’s concerns nor would she be “strong-armed” with legal threats.
“I think we need to talk about it more before we make any decisions,” Commissioner Doris Jones said. “This is the first time I’ve ever made a decision like this. I want to hear more about it and I want to talk about it. If anybody has a question, I want it to be heard. We are talking about personal property … in one meeting you cannot make a decision.”
Jones made a motion to recess the public hearing until Jan. 25. Commissioners will meet at town hall before visiting the potential location of the tower.
Stocks seconded the motion and it passed with all in favor.
Seeing as it was a quasi-judicial meeting, Clark encouraged the commissioners to not discuss the permit further and warned that discussion should occur only in the open meeting.
If approved, this will be the third communications tower in Hookerton. A communications tower is located at the Hookerton Community Center. A newly approved tower soon will be Built at 1366 Morris BBQ Road. That tower was approved by Greene County. It’s is owned by Vertical Bridge and is located 2,900 feet from the proposed tower.
The tower at the Hookerton Community Center is 1,900 feet from the proposed tower.