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Cellphone tower plans spark debate
Colonels Island residents fight construction
JD celltower
A proposed cellphone tower would sit adjacent to Richard Bew’s property, and rise above his nearby tree line to supply Colonel’s Island with phone service. - photo by Photo by John Deike
Distraught Colonel’s Island homeowners are fighting the construction of a tall cellphone tower that could be erected in this sparsely populated portion of the county.
During a recent Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission meeting, two companies (Gilly Development and Skylink Properties) were vying for the board’s approval to build a 300-foot cell phone tower on Colonel’s Island.
Many residents, who live in the proximity of the proposed construction plots, attended the meeting because they contended the tower would create an eyesore.
Despite their objections, Skylink won the zoning, and Gilly’s plan was rejected because its proposed building site was too close to a county-owned bird sanctuary, zoning administrator Debra Attica said.
The zoning approval is the first step in the process, and the county commission will decide July 10 whether it will approve Skylink’s construction near Lake Pamona Road, planning commission Director Sonny Timmerman said.
Skylink will compensate Liberty County Clerk of Courts Barry Wilkes since its tower would be built on his property, attorney Tom Ratcliffe said.
Wilkes will most likely receive $7,500 to $10,000 a year for a set amount of years depending upon the contract negotiations he and Skylink arrived at, Gilly said.
“Everyone in the area is opposed to the construction of this tower, and I plan to bring as many of my neighbors as I can to the next commission meeting to oppose this tower,” Colonel’s Island resident Richard Bew said.
“I am concerned about the health issues since these towers emit a certain amount of radiation. This radiation may be harmful, and I have my wife and newborn to think about,” he said.
Bew has also spent several thousand dollars to hire an attorney, and he plans to appeal the construction of the tower if the commission decides to approve it.
Area resident Cheryl Donaldson objected as well, saying such towers should be built in commercial or industrial areas, and not residential areas.
But Wilkes defended the tower and said it would be beneficial to the surrounding community because the elevated cell phone access would increase the safety of boaters and fishermen on Lake Pamona, area residents and passers-by who may need cell phone access if they are faced with an emergency situation.
The tower will offer a 16-mile circumference of cellphone service, he said.
Liberty-Hinesville Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Burriss sided with Wilkes, and said the placement of the tower is in a good location due to how close it is to the coast.
Burriss also said the tower would be good for boaters and fishermen who may encounter emergencies, because they could use their cell phones to call for for assistance.
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