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Hall commissioners iffy on cell phone tower

Carrier wants signal to reach South Hall ‘dead zone’

POSTED: January 24, 2009 12:34 a.m.

South Hall residents could be in for better cell phone service if the Hall County Board of Commissioners approves a new Verizon Wireless tower.

Representatives from the cellular provider asked the board to approve a new telecommunications tower that could handle up to five different carriers.

According to Jennifer Blackburn, an attorney representing Verizon Wireless, South Hall needs another tower because customers receive little or no signal along Spout Springs and Friendship roads.

But some commissioners weren’t sold on the idea and tabled the request until their Feb. 12 meeting to do some research.

Commissioners Billy Powell and Bobby Banks want to make sure the tower is necessary before approving it. They pointed out that the information provided by the Verizon representatives mapped out the locations of the carrier’s towers, but not other providers’ towers in the same area.

"I just want to clarify how many towers are already in South Hall," Banks said.

Banks, who represents South Hall, said he has heard complaints about dropped calls and poor cell phone reception near Spout Springs and Friendship roads.

The tower would be approximately 195 feet tall and would be located on an 8-acre piece of property on the south side of Deaton Henry Road.

Commissioners want the company to camouflage the tower so that it looks like a tree and does not mar the landscape.

"I think it’s an eyesore," Powell said of large cell towers.

Blackburn explained that some towers can be camouflaged to look like trees, church steeples or flag poles, but in this phase it likely would not be feasible.

Hall County Planning and Zoning Director Randy Knighton said Hall County code doesn’t require towers to be camouflaged.

"Our code does speak for the encouragement of cell tower design features that would either disguise or camouflage where applicable or appropriate," Knighton said.

Knighton said many different factors have to be assessed to determine if a cell tower can be disguised.

"Every piece of property is unique in its own right and every tower to some extent may be different," he said. "So depending on the topography, depending on how tall the tower is, depending on how tall the trees are surrounding the tower, or other buildings or features would go along way to dictating how or in what manner the tower could be disguised or camouflaged or not."



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