Proposed communication tower in Pittsboro causes concern

Posted 5/3/19

PITTSBORO — A proposed communications tower on Mitchells Chapel Road in Pittsboro is causing consternation for residents and for a competitor, SBA Communications, which has its own communications …

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Proposed communication tower in Pittsboro causes concern

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Posted

PITTSBORO — A proposed communications tower on Mitchells Chapel Road in Pittsboro is causing consternation for residents and for a competitor, SBA Communications, which has its own communications tower about 2,000 feet from the proposed location.

Tillman Communications, which will be the owner of the proposed tower, participated in a required evidentiary hearing before the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners last week as required for a project such as this one. In the hearing, Larry Perry and Karin Kemric, representatives for Tillman stated that the company had partnered with AT&T to provide 5G service to the provider in the Pittsboro area.

The proposed 300-foot tower would be located near the center of a 24-acre parcel that it would lease from the property’s owner, Lynn Mann. The company’s special use permit application states that the tower would be placed in an agricultural area and therefore would not have any impact on adjoining properties. The representatives acknowledged the SBA Communications’ tower stating it was not 5G compatible. It also stated that the SBA Communications tower was already “full.”

Two landowners near the proposed site spoke in opposition to Tillman’s tower. Kathleen Greenlee, a resident whose home is about 500 feet from the property that would host the proposed tower, voiced multiple concerns. She noted that she had not been informed of the project, but noticed a public hearing announcement sign near her property and that was how she knew about the evidentiary hearing. She also stated that she did not believe the new tower was necessary.

“There is already a cell tower across the bypass that we see from our front porch,” Greenlee said. “We don’t want one that we see off our back porch as well.”

Greenlee also voiced doubts that the communication tower would have no effect of property values of adjoining properties.

“It’s an eyesore,” Greenlee said. “If I didn’t own my home and saw it had a tower next to it, I would look somewhere else. We are not just a rural area. We have lots of neighbors. This affects people, not just land.”

Pittsboro Commissioner and Mayor Pro-Tem Pamela Baldwin confirmed Greenlee’s assertion about the community. Baldwin and her family attend services nearby at Mitchells Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church.

“That area is more residential than agricultural now,” Baldwin said.

This concern about property value was echoed by Sydney Taylor who attended the meeting with his wife Joyce.

“We were thinking about selling our property in the future,” Taylor said. “If there was a tower there, they [potential purchasers] don’t want to be there.”

Taylor also raised questions about the town improving the connectivity to the area to town services. He asked if the town would be connecting water and sewer to the properties or creating a connection to the Hwy 64 bypass.

Amanda Robertson, a Pittsboro resident and environmental activist, also spoke in opposition to the tower. Noting that she had not initially intended to speak on the subject, Robertson stated that with the other tower so close, there was not a need to place another.

“How fast do we want to grow with a bunch of towers popping up?” she asked.

The intensity reached a peak when Bob Hornick, an attorney for SBA Communications also addressed the board, over staunch objections made by representatives for Tillman. Pittsboro Mayor Cindy Perry reacted to the objections noting that this wasn’t a court of law, but a town proceeding which would follow its own rules. Hornick noted that the SBA tower currently carries AT&T communications and also has the potential to carry 5G which was a claim Tillman levied. He also noted that the SBA Communications tower did have space available for additional users.

“I suggest to the board that the tower is not necessary,” he said.

Hornick also noted that based on the site plan submitted, the tower would be visible from the road. In addition, there tower would have a beacon light that would be visible to all to drive into Pittsboro on the Business 64 exit.

“It is not in harmony with the surrounding area,” he said. “And it can be avoided as there’s already a tower in the area.”

The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners did not immediately act on the proposal, referring the matter to the Pittsboro Planning Board for its review and recommendation.

Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@chathamnr.com.

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