Monday, April 29, 2002

West Chester denies AT&T tower request

Company had asked for an exception to 500-foot rule

By Jennifer Edwards,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — Trustees are refusing to grant AT&T Wireless an exception to build another telecommunications tower on LeSourdesville-West Chester Road where two towers and a 110-foot-high water tower already stand near homes.

        The township requires towers to rise no closer than 500 feet to the nearest property line, and AT&T's tower would sit 110 feet from the nearest property line.

        “This is a great victory,” said neighbor Allen Baxter, who lives near the towers. “The federal government has the power, unfortunately, to override the township's decision, but they are government, too, and we can handle them just like we did the local one.”

        This month, AT&T officials asked for an exception because its two towers — one 465 feet tall, the other 150 feet — already are at or above structural capacity and were built before current township restrictions were in place.

        But trustees denied the request because the proposed tower is located too close to homes. They also are concerned that another tower would further “cluster” the area, setting a precedent of which other utility companies could take advantage.

        They will officially vote on the resolution to deny the tower at their next meeting May 7.

        “AT&T does not need to put that tower in that particular location to expand their service. It is not the only place available,” Trustee Catherine Stoker said. “It's too close to a residential district. I don't see where we could legally allow it,” she said. There's no compelling reason to make an exception for AT&T.”

        Michele Fleming, a Cincinnati attorney representing AT&T, said the company would work with the township to find a new location. It's too soon to say if AT&T will appeal the decision, she said.

        But the trustees' decision came after residents complained that the existing towers are a blight and hurt property values. They also did not want the township setting a precedent by granting the exception.

        “Everybody has been particularly annoyed with the lack of maintenance and care to the lot where the towers are and then they want to stick another one out here,” Mr. Baxter said.

        Developers objected because 45 new homes are going up in the area, some that are being sold below their listed price because of the towers.


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