Cell phone tower debate continues in Huntersville
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – Town board members again heard discussion about a proposed 199-foot cell phone tower that would be placed at 9845 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, and again fell into debate over eyesores and phone signals.
It’s old country versus new world.
Pegasus Towers has requested to put the cell tower at that location to improve cell signals around the Westminster Park neighborhood and the Latta Plantation and Rural Hill areas in Huntersville. The goal, a lawyer for the company told the board Monday, Aug. 1, was to boost signals enough so residents could use their cell phones inside their homes. Residents from those areas say they have to step outside to get coverage.
“If you’re in peril, it would be nice not to have to run outside your home to reach out to 911,” attorney Jonathan Yates told the board. The tower would benefit most all phone companies, he said, as they could purchase “space” on the structure.
Commissioner Charles Jeter took umbrage with the placement of the tower and the timing of the rezoning request.
The tower, as proposed, would sit next to the Walden Ridge and Holly Ridge subdivisions, both in Charlotte. Jeter said he suspected the placement was for the benefit of Charlotte while avoiding the Queen City’s zoning rules.
He also said the cell tower violated two of the tenets set forth in the 2030 Community Plan, that was passed in June. Both tenets intend to preserve and enhance natural space within the town.
“Are we really going to get six weeks into this and go ahead and violate two of the considerations?” Jeter asked the board.
Yates said his company would plant many trees around the tower to negate some of the eyesore issues. The 32-inch-wide pole would eventually blend into the background like a power line or telephone pole.
In many cases, cell phone providers can put smaller antennas onto buildings or other tall structures to avoid having to build a tower. But there are no structures tall enough to accommodate them in the area that most needs the service, Yates added.
“This is 21st-century infrastructure,” he said, “we have no choice but to go up.”
Town planners asked the board to deny the application, as it was akin to spot zoning, and the legality of this request is unclear.
Commissioners asked Pegasus Towers to provide more information for another public hearing at a later town board meeting.