Commission to take up 4 tower requests

The Planning Commission is set to take up four requests for conditional use permits for communications towers at its April 20 meeting.

Also, planning staff members have suggested that at its April 20 work session the commission make an addition to the work program for the review and discussion of the tower siting policy, as well as addressing the concerns that have been raised about it. A memo on the matter says the commission’s consideration of recent tower proposals has drawn attention to the policy.

On Thursday, Planning Director Kirk Turner said Midlothian District Commissioner Reuben J. Waller, Jr. had sparked the review, as he’d expressed concern about technology and how quickly its place in people’s lives is changing.

“As a result, we need to take a look at our tower siting policy,” Turner said, to see if it needs to be changed or updated.

Towers of varying heights are proposed for the Bermuda, Matoaca and Clover Hill districts.

In the Bermuda District, Richmond 20 MHz LLC has submitted an application for a 158-foot monopole tower with internally mounted antennas on about 1.9 acres zoned agriculture fronting on the southeast line of Silverdust Lane. Staff has recommended approval of the request.

In Matoaca, Pegasus Tower Company Ltd. has submitted an application for a 150-foot stealth/slick-stick communications tower on about one-fifth of an acre zoned residential on the north line of Timber Bluff Parkway. Staff has recommended approval of the request, but “it is important to note comments recently received from the School Board Office,” the recommendation says.

“The School Board objects to the location of a free-standing communication tower in front of Woolridge Elementary School,” a report on the request says. The board believes such a tower would harm the school’s aesthetic value, conflict with its harmonious campus setting and reduce the number of mature trees and amount of open space on the property, the report says.

Also in Matoaca, New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC has proposed a 199-foot tower on 25.3 acres zoned agriculture on the south line of Hickory Road. The property is within the boundaries of the Matoaca Village Plan, which suggests it is appropriate for residential use.

Staff has recommended denial because the proposal does not conform to the public facilities plan, which suggests tower locations should generally be located to minimize the impact on existing or future areas of development, or the tower siting policy, a report on the matter says.

The staff has also recommended denial of an application from Richmond 20 MHz LLC for a 198-foot monopole tower on 2 acres zoned agriculture in the Clover Hill District.

The response a proposed tower inspires “really depends on the location,” Turner said last week. Recommendations on tower applications are made following the siting policy, he said.

“If they’re in the heart of a subdivision and fairly highly visible, there is concern,” he said. If they’re in areas where they’re less visible, there tends to be less concern, he said.

Public hearings on each of the four conditional use permit requests will take place at the commission’s evening meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m.

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