Cell Tower in Greenwood?

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There are two meetings in Albemarle County today where a special use permit for a cell phone tower in Greenwood will be discussed. The Historic Preservation Committee will get a briefing on Verizon’s application for a 94-foot-tall monopole to be built near 7418 Greenwood Station Road.

“Verizon has determined that the area surrounding this proposed site needs expanded coverage to better service the nearby residences, businesses, and traffic along the I-64 Interstate,” reads the staff report for the permit application, which carries the name Scruby Property Verizon Wireless. “Therefore, this site is intended to provide infill coverage while also adding additional network capacity by offloading traffic from the company’s nearest existing sites in all directions.”

The application requires a special use permit because of the height. The property is within an entrance corridor which requires review by the Architectural Review Board. The Historic Preservation Committee is receiving the information because the land is within the Greenwood-Afton Rural Historic District. For nearly twenty years, Albemarle has had a policy that discourages towers. 

“The most important principle for siting personal wireless service facilities in Albemarle County is visibility,” reads a December 2000 report from Kreines and Kreines Inc. that helped shape the county’s ordinance. “Albemarle County should require that sufficient information be submitted with the application to enable the County to measure the visibility of a facility.”

With the pandemic shutting down in-person schools, some have argued the county needs to update its rules. This application has attracted a lot of attention and community members will be able to learn more at the community meeting required as part of the application process. That begins at 6:30 p.m. (meeting info)

In October, staff wrote to the applicant and said they could not recommend approval following a test where a balloon is raised at the site to simulate the tower’s presence.

“The visibility presented at the balloon test is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, the County’s Wireless Policy, or the Zoning Ordinance,” wrote Christoper Perez in an October 16 letter to the applicant’s representatives. The applicants disagree. 

“Objective 10 of the Community Facilities Chapter 12 of the Comprehensive Plan is to support the provision of private utilities, including wireless service when its provision is in keeping with other aspects of the Comprehensive Plan,” reads the current narrative

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