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City Reconsiders Cell Tower Sites
USA Created: 18 Aug 2009
HARRISONBURG - City Council is reconsidering whether cell phone towers should be allowed in residential neighborhoods.

The issue reached council this week, when regional provider Shentel asked for a special-use permit to erect a telecommunications tower off East Market Street, behind the Rockingham Group.

The request, which had the backing of the Harrisonburg Planning Commission over the planning staff's objections, was tabled at Tuesday's council meeting.

Along with a desire to meet increased demand, Shentel representatives have argued that the proposed tower is needed at the requested location because of the limited number of sites available.

The city's restriction on placing poles and attaching antennae to buildings in residential areas has contributed to the problem, they said.

Council members said they were open to reviewing the city's restrictions on telecommunications sites, particularly antennae that are largely unseen when placed on tall buildings.

"We need to explore that," said City Manager Kurt Hodgen on Friday, "and see what other communities are doing and get a general lay of the land ... [to] identify residential areas where that could possibly happen."

Council also expressed a desire to help Shentel, based in Edinburg, to find a suitable location on city property. The company provides services in Shenandoah County and parts of Warren, Frederick and Rockingham counties.

The city has given Shentel approval to conduct tests from the water tower on Ramblewood Road, Hodgen said.

Another potential location is on a pole at the Eastover Tennis Courts on Reservoir Street, Hodgen said. The city does lease space for antennae on tall structures on public property.

"The city is not restricted by the zoning ordinance," he said.
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Source: Rocktown Weekly, Jeff Mellott, 18 Aug 2009

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