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Lula stops cell tower development for 90 days
City wants to line up utility pole usage with its zoning laws
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New cell tower development in Lula will be halted for 90 days as the northeast Hall County city works to ensure that proper zoning laws regulating such structures are in place.

City Council voted Wednesday to put the brakes on the towers after getting a request from a company seeking a 120-foot tower.

Specifically, the request was for “a utility pole for the benefit of telecommunications,” City Manager Dennis Bergin said.

The city turned down the application because the company requested the pole on Georgia Department of Transportation right of way, Bergin said.

But the request “did bring up an opportunity” of how to address the larger issue of zoning rules governing the poles, he added.

Last fall, Georgia Municipal Association alerted cities that “there would be companies … that were going to utilize federal law allowing them to piggyback off existing utility poles and basically put (equipment) in for cell service,” Bergin told the council.

“Federal law states that we can’t deny them that opportunity if they use existing poles,” he added.

“The problem is ... our zoning and development standards don’t identify the height of a utility pole,” Bergin said.

He added: “Usually, in a cell tower ordinance, you identify what properties and land use are best suited for that.”

Bergin suggested at least 60 days to give the council adequate time to advertise and then hold council meetings and a public hearing on the matter.

“We would recommend that those not be special called meetings because you want the public’s involvement in these types of things,” he told the council.

Mayor Milton Turner recommended 90 days.

“That gives us time to get the ordinance together,” he said.

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