Communications towers to get review


Carroll County will continue to hold public hearings on any proposed communications towers more than 100 feet tall.

"We are not outlawing towers, but we are encouraging review," said zoning administrator Solveig Smith, at a meeting of the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission yesterday.

In some areas of the county, residents have protested plans to erect new towers for cellular telephone equipment.

The commission unanimously passed several amendments to existing regulations, including setback requirements, site plan reviews and emphasis on efforts to build on existing towers before any new construction is approved.

The Carroll County commissioners must approve the draft and schedule a public hearing on it.

J. Michael Evans, county director of general services, said he hoped the new regulations would encourage companies to put relay equipment on existing towers -- called co-location -- and so "eliminate the proliferation of antennas in the county."

"Whoever wants to put up an antenna has to exhaust options on existing towers before they will be allowed to build in the county," said Mr. Evans.

The Board of Zoning Appeals will continue to decide whether towers more than 100 feet tall meet conditional-use requirements.

Clark R. Shaffer, attorney for Bell Atlantic, called 100 feet "too restrictive."

"Below 100 feet is not high enough for co-location and encourages establishment of smaller, less regulated towers," he said.

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, who has led efforts to check tower construction, said he doubted that communications companies would be building small towers.

"I have heard repeatedly that it is more economical to build larger towers," said the mayor.

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