04/12/07 — Wayne County Planning Board recommends against rezoning for cell tower

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Wayne County Planning Board recommends against rezoning for cell tower

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 12, 2007 1:48 PM

Faced with a rezoning request to build a cellular phone tower about a mile-and-a-half south of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's main runway, the Wayne County Planning Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to send the proposal on to the county Board of Commissioners with an unfavorable recommendation.

"The planning board is recommending that it not be built because of its proximity to Seymour Johnson," county planning director Connie Price said.

He said he is asking for the request -- with the board's unfavorable recommendation -- to be included on the agenda for Tuesday's commission meeting. He wouldn't venture a guess, though, as to whether or not the commissioners would accept their advice.

"Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't," he said.

But, he added, he felt confident the planning board had made a good decision, even though the tower might not have interfered with the base's activities.

"Its proposed height would actually not be in violation of the recommendations from Seymour Johnson based on their current mission," Price said. "But the planning board was concerned that if that mission changed and the maximum height was lowered, it would be too tall."

He also said that even though the base informed the board that they had no objections to the tower, members still felt it was not in the county's best interests to support the rezoning request.

"The letter was from the people who are there now and the planning board thought the next person that reviewed it might take issue with it," he said.

The tower's proposed height was 225 feet. The maximum height for that area is 235 feet, but, Price explained, with the jets taking off from the southern end of runway and often turning left, the tower would be in their flight path.

The request was made by Crown Castle International, a company that builds cellular towers. Price said he didn't know if the company had a carrier lined up.

A similar idea was proposed several years ago to build a tower on the base's east side, but a rezoning request was never submitted.