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New east-end cell tower draws sparks

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POSTED: September 22, 2007 5:04 a.m.

Cell phone towers again rang up debate among county officials, residents and developers at this month’s Liberty County Commission meeting Tuesday.
Following a recommendation of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission to disapprove the construction of a 300-foot cell tower off Camp Viking Road, developer Jim Gilly decided to bring his construction proposal in front of the county commissioners in the hopes of getting it approved.
Gilly’s tower was originally disapproved by the LCPC because his construction survey was not precise enough, he did not meet ordinance 12.4.5 (setbacks and separations), and he did not submit a landscape plan, Commissioner Kenny Fussell said.
“The ordinance states the tower shall be set back at a minimum distance equal to the height of the tower from its base to an adjoining property line, however, Gilly’s tower was too close to Meredith Devendorf’s property,” Zoning Administrator Debra Attical said.
During the meeting, Devendorf strongly voiced her opposition to the tower.
“I don’t really much care if it is engineered to fall within one square inch of where it is. The (World Trade Center) wasn’t supposed to fall either so the setbacks are their for a reason, and if this is a 1,000 acre tract, certainly there must be a more appropriate place to place this (tower),” she said.
The commissioners hedged toward disapproving Gilly’s tower too, but after conferring with County Attorney Kelly Davis, delayed a decision, giving Gilly with extra time to correct his plans so approval can be granted, Fussell said.
The commissioners extended this courtesy to Gilly because if they voted it down, Gilly would have to wait six months before he could resubmit the proposal. And also because Liberty County Clerk of Courts Barry Wilkes was extended the same type of courtesy for a cell tower he wants to build off Lake Pamona Road, Fussell said.
Wilkes’ tower did not meet the setbacks and separations ordinance either, and he will have to lower his tower from 300 feet to 270 feet to meet the ordinance, Attical said.
Since Gilly’s tower is set back on a rural tract of land with no structures within 2,000 feet, Attical predicts flexibility could be applied to this particular case in order to approve it.
When the cell tower vote was delayed, Commissioner Marion Stevens was pleased.
Tuesday night proves we are regaining our authority when deciding the outcomes of development matters, and we need to continue to take back control of who we are,” Stevens said.

Fussell is also unhappy with the decision making of the LCPC, but said he’ll continue to work with the board so the entities can efficiently work together in the future.
In other county news
• Phase II of the Villages at Limerick, Phase III of the Yellow Bluff development and Phase I of the Bermuda Bluff development were all approved.
• For the Villages at Limerick, 275 single-family homes will be built, and 42 homes will be built in the third phase of the Yellow Bluff, Attical said.
• The commissioners also agreed to help conduct the elections for the municipalities of Riceboro and Allenhurst for the upcoming 2007 election.

 

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