Communications tower urged at hospital center


Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman has suggested Springfield Hospital Center as an alternative site for a controversial telecommunications tower and one potential tower user has approved his plan.

"Bell Atlantic suggested that a 250-foot tower at the Springfield Hospital Center site would satisfy its requirements," the mayor wrote in a letter March 30 to Carroll County Commissioners.

Bell Atlantic, which dropped its lease plans for the original Hollenberry Road site a year ago, confirmed its approval.

"We have been working for quite some time to create a win-win solution within the community," said Gina Marshall, Bell Atlantic's general manager of network engineering. "A preliminary investigation of the site at Springfield shows that it suits our needs."

West Shore Communications, the contract builder for a tower proposed for conservation-zoned land on Hollenberry Road, originally had planned to lease space on the structure to Cellular One and several other users.

Ms. Marshall said co-location of several users minimizes the number of towers and benefits the community. "Co-location is our goal," she said. "We would not go to Springfield if our competitor does not locate there, too."

The mayor said he hopes a suitable alternative will end the 18-month controversy about the tower.

In his letter, Mayor Herman "reaffirms and reiterates" the town's opposition to the Hollenberry Road site, where West Shore Communications started in October to build a 200-foot telecommunications tower within a few hundred feet of homes. Three days after construction began, county officials called the location unsafe and ordered work stopped.

"The town and county must oppose the developer's contention that certain foundation work, undertaken with full knowledge of the pending appeal, vests rights in the permit process," the mayor wrote to the commissioners.

The town has appealed the vesting issue and a violation of the town-county agreement to Carroll Circuit Court. The case is scheduled to be heard April 21 by Judge Luke K. Burns Jr.

"We recognize the benefits cellular communication offers Carroll County and the town," Mayor Herman wrote. "However, our main concern . . . lies in the welfare and safety of our community.

"From the outset of the planning and permitting process, the town's input has been ignored."

The Hollenberry Road site presents a safety hazard, and will lower surrounding property values and detract from the town atmosphere, he said. He offered West Shore the town's help in searching for an alternative site.

"Acceptable alternative sites meeting the needs of both the telecommunication industry and the citizens are available," the mayor said in his letter. "The detriments to the community far exceed the burden to the developer of locating on Springfield."

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