CHIPLEY — The Washington County Planning Commissioners on Tuesday approved a request for a special exception to allow a cell tower to be built along Clayton Road.
Gary Pfeiffer, project manager for AW Solutions, the firm building the tower, was on hand to answer questions and explain the plans for the tower.
“This project will enhance telecommunications process in the county,” Pfeiffer said, and the project has gone through the design and permitting phase and now needs final approval by the Board of County Commissioners so work can begin on the 334-foot cell tower.
The tower will supply service to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as the county, Pfeiffer said, and nationally the trend has been to put different carriers on a common tower to avoid an overpopulation of cell towers.
The 6,400 square foot lot will be fenced and will have a gravel access road, and drainage studies have been done as well, Pfeiffer said. The tower will sit 300-feet from the property line.
Vice Chairman Jim Ackerman asked if the gravel road would be only for the use of the cell tower’s owners. “Yes, it is strictly for maintenance of the tower and property, there are no easements implied,” Pfeiffer said.
Senior Planner Mike DeRuntz said that the cell tower is an acceptable usage for the property, and a resident in the audience asked if her pine trees would interfere with the cell tower’s operation.
“There won’t be any impact on the pine trees, and with the height of this tower, the trees would have to be the height of a 16-story building to reach the antennaes,” Pfeiffer said.
The commissioners approved the project on the condition that the structure be lighted as required by the FAA; that repairing any damage to the new Clayton Road pavement from the construction and development of the tower be the responsibility of the tower’s builders; that the company provide space on the tower to support future county emergency services communications equipment; and that an exemption letter be provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection prior to the issuance of the development order by the county.
The project will move on to the county commissioners for their final approval at the Feb. 28 BOCC meeting.
In a workshop following the planning commission meeting, DeRuntz reviewed the county’s Future Land Use Map errors and omissions with the commissioners. He also provided a list of county residents who were seeking to change the zoning of their properties with the map changes.
The commissioners tabled the residents request until the March meeting due to two commissioners being absent.