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Brown asks for halt on new towers


Carroll County officials should not allow more mobile phone towers to be built until they further study the issue, Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown has told county commissioners.

Requests from cellular phone companies to build towers in the county are increasing, but county officials have not studied the "large view" of the matter, the mayor wrote to the commissioners Thursday.

The commissioners received the letter yesterday.

Mr. Brown asked that they not allow Board of Zoning Appeals hearings on mobile phone towers for a year to 18 months, to allow time to study the issue.

The three-member zoning board handles requests from cellular phone companies for towers, which are allowed as conditional uses in certain areas. Two companies -- Cellular One and Bell Atlantic -- want to build towers in Carroll.

Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy said yesterday that a moratorium on zoning hearings is probably not the answer.

"These issues come up," Mr. Dell said. "We can't say we cannot have progress any more. We have to be open-minded about these things. This is today's world. It's not 1890."

Mr. Lippy said a moratorium might cause mobile phone companies to file suits against the county.

"I have never heard of a moratorium being put on any discourse or any legitimate business before the Board of Zoning Appeals," he said.

The county should study the issue, however, Mr. Lippy said.

"The jury really is still out on the effects of radiation," he said. "Ben's idea might have some value, except I don't go along with a moratorium."

Mr. Dell suggested that county department directors meet to discuss the issue.

This summer, the Board of Zoning Appeals gave Cellular One approval to build one tower in Sykesville and one in Frizzellburg.

No one opposed the company's plan for a 150-foot tower at 6271 Oakland Mill Road in Sykesville.

In Frizzellburg, 13 neighbors appealed to Carroll Circuit Court the zoning board's decision to allow a 250-foot tower at 1418 Richardson Road. The appeal is pending.

Cellular One also has plans to build a 200-foot tower at 7001 Hollenberry Road in Sykesville. A zoning hearing on that tower is set at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 29 in Room 07 of the County Office Building.

Neighbors who oppose the plan have hired a Westminster lawyer to help them fight it.

Jay Winer, president of West Shore Communications of Odenton, which is affiliated with Cellular One, said yesterday he is not sure whether the company will proceed with plans for the tower at that site.

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