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Solving a towering dilemma Springfield site offers West Shore a compromise in South Carroll dispute.


NOW THAT Carroll's county government plans to build a 225-foot radio tower on the grounds of Springfield Hospital Center to service the cellular phone needs of South Carroll, it would make sense for West Shore Communications to abandon its disputed tower project on Hollenberry Road one mile away.

But common sense is not the operative force at work here. Money is.

West Shore is not about to give up on a project than stands to generate large sums of revenue from cellular phone companies that would lease space on the tower. Why else would the company begin erecting the 200-foot structure while opponents have appeals pending in court challenging the validity of its building approvals?

Apparently the return on investment will be great enough that West Shore is prepared to gamble. As soon as the tower is constructed, West Shore can begin transmitting and generating a healthy stream of revenue. Should the opponents prevail eventually in court, the tower will have to come down. But by then, West Shore expects to have received a partial return on its tower.

Cellular One, West Shore's major tenant, also appears equally adamant about the tower being built. Cellular One claims its engineering studies show that the Hollenberry Road site would offer better coverage than the proposed Springfield site. Cellular One apparently is not overly concerned about South Carroll residents' animosity toward West Shore for its insistence on building the tower in a conservation zone near homes. Bell Atlantic Mobile, which had once considered using the tower, backed off once it realized it was alienating potential customers.

By using the county's tower, Cellular One could put this political controversy to rest immediately. Cellular One is sticking to its claim that the Hollenberry Road site is not only the optimum location for the communications tower, but the only one.

It is difficult to believe that the Springfield site is so much worse that Cellular One won't even consider using it. With this hard-line approach, Cellular One is guaranteeing fierce opposition from the community to further tower approvals in Carroll.

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