(TNS) — A national telecommunications company wants permission from Gaston County to install a nearly 200-foot-tall tower in the shadow of Crowders Mountain.
If approved, Verizon Wireless would construct the monopole tower on land at 454 Freedom Mill Road southwest of the Gastonia city limits. It would lease land there from the property owner, Gary Douglas Hicks, who bought the 11-acre tract there in July 2014 for $220,000.
Verizon would also be required to allow three other cell carriers to install their own antennas on the tower. That’s in line with a local requirement aimed at cutting down on the number of cell towers across the landscape, said Laura Hamilton, a land use officer with the Gaston County Planning Department.
The specific spot where Verizon wants to erect the tower is zoned for residential use, though much of the rest of the tract is zoned commercial. That will require the company to obtain a conditional use permit for the project.
The Gaston County board of adjustment will consider the request during its next meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, in the third-floor conference room of the Gaston County Government Administrative Building, 128 W. Main Ave., Gastonia.
If approved, it would mark the second cell tower Verizon has been cleared to build in Gaston County within a month. The Board of Adjustment in December unanimously endorsed the company’s request for a permit to construct a tower at 2198 County Line Road near Cherryville.
Two residents who live near that project voiced several questions about the tower plan, though no one clearly opposed it, Hamilton said.
Verizon's tower on Freedom Mill Road would be 194 feet precisely. Telecommunications firms often aim to keep their towers under 200 feet due to more intense local restrictions that kick in once they extend higher, Hamilton said. She described what Verizon wants to build as an “overgrown telephone pole” that would extend well above the tree canopy.
“It’s not going to be like the big lattice-style towers you see in some places that may be 250 feet or taller,” she said, referencing the gigantic, Duke Energy transmission lines that feature criss-crossing steel beams.
Nearby residents and property owners who oppose such projects tend to do so due to concerns about how the structure will look and change the landscape, Hamilton said.
“Typically, it’s aesthetics that people have concerns with,” she said. “On occasion, it has to do with safety issues related to it falling.”
Gaston County requires such towers to have a ‘collapse area’ built into the design, ensuring that it will not topple over at 100 percent of its height, Hamilton said. It guarantees that the tower would instead collapse onto itself, in quarters for example.
“We have a fall zone or setback requirement that’s three-quarters of the height of the tower,” said Hamilton. “So if it’s 200 feet tall, it has to be 150 feet away from the property line, minimum.”
To obtain the permit, Verizon will have to convince Board of Adjustment members that their project will satisfy four specific zoning conditions. That includes proving it will not endanger public safety, meets all conditions and requirements, will not damage nearby property values, and will be in harmony with its surroundings.
©2018 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.