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New PTC tower ordinance criticized

Peachtree City’s new celltower ordinance, which will allow new towers to be built in some parks and recreation areas with approval of the City Council, resulted in the planning commission getting an earful Monday night.

Resident Kevin Cheney, who lives near Blue Smoke Park, complained that the city should be protecting its parks and recreation areas from celltowers instead of allowing them to be built.

“Is there anything in there that says the quality of life in Peachtree City has to be taken into account?” Cheney asked.

Planning Commission Chairman Patrick Staples replied that the commission always “puts Peachtree City first” and he didn’t appreciate the suggestion that it didn’t.

“From day one this has been a major concern for our parks and recreation areas,” Cheney replied. “People have come to express their opinion and that has been the number one thing addressed up here.”

Cheney also noted that the City Council had pledged not to allow new celltowers in city recreation centers and parks.

Resident Mary Giles, who lives near the Braelinn recreation area off Log House Road, said she was concerned about access issues for new celltowers on city parks and recreation areas.

“I want to see protection for our multi-use path system. I want to see protection for our parks,” Giles said.

Despite the protest of Cheney, and from fellow resident Mary Giles, the commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of the ordinance to the City Council.

The ordinance included some changes based on input from cellphone companies, including a four-hour period instead of an eight-hour period in which a balloon test must be conducted. Such tests involve raising a balloon to the height of the proposed tower in part so citizens can get a visual idea of how the tower will fit in with its surroundings.

Balloon tests must be done on a weekend day and also must be advertised in advance with a notice published in the city’s legal organ, the ordinance requires.

The ordinance requires that any celltower support structure be 200 feet from any adjoining residential property line, 200 feet from any public right of way and 50 feet from any abutting property not zoned for residential use.

Also, the celltower and support structures must be 250 feet away from any property line abutting a school or place of worship.

The city also will be limiting tower height to a maximum of 180 feet.

The ordinance will allow new celltowers to be placed on lots zoned light industrial, general industrial and open space-public. Commissioner Lynda Wojcik suggested the city look at possibly allowing new celltowers on land zoned general commercial and office institutional, but that will require further study by staff and will be pushed back to a later date.

Other changes made at the request of the cellphone industry included:

• The companies will have to notify property owners within a 250-foot radius via letter when a new celltower site is proposed. The previous radius was 1,000 feet.

• A requirement that each tower have at least two wireless carriers for a new celltower was stricken. Community Development Director David Rast explained that instead new towers will be required to have space for several carriers to use them simultaneously.

• Language allowing the city or Fayette County to have the ability to locate emergency communications equipment on a new celltower at no cost was removed. Rast said cellphone companies questioned the legality of the clause though they would be willing to work with the city to allow such equipment.

The ordinance is being revamped in part because several cellphone companies have said they need new towers in several residential areas to improve service as people are relying on their phones for not just voice calls but also email and Internet access.

Rast noted that of the previous sites identified for potential celltowers, the new ordinance would not eliminate any of those sites.

County eyes relaxing tower distance rules

Meanwhile, with cellphone companies needing to bring access closer to county residential areas, Fayette County may soon relax its zoning rules to accommodate the ever-growing population of those talking, emailing and surfing the web on their phones.

Currently the county requires a two-mile separation between towers. County zoning staff is recommending the distance be shrunk to 1.5 miles.

Also, a requirement for new towers to be 1,000 feet away from the nearest residence will be reduced to a figure three times the height of the celltower.

“That means the taller the tower, the greater the setback,” Community Development Director Pete Frisina told the Fayette County Commission at its workshop meeting Aug. 4.

If approved, the county also would be allowing celltowers in the R-70 zoning district to accommodate an area in the north central portion of the county where cellphone companies have indicated a lack of service, according to a staff memo on the changes.

The new rules would allow new celltowers to be erected on the same lot as a private school or day care center, but it must be set back from all facilities for a distance equal to the height of the tower.

The county’s new rules also address “alternative” tower structures which are used to disguise towers such as clock towers, bell towers, flag poles, internal antenna “slick stick” towers and artificial pine trees.

Such towers would go through a design review and approval process before the planning commission to make sure the structure type is appropriate for the surrounding area and “set requirements for placement, equipment structures, fencing and landscaping,” the memo said.

Cellular companies will have an incentive to use alternative structures as they will be allowed as conditional uses for:

• A church or other place of worship;

• Developed residential recreational/amenity areas;

• Private school; and

• Telephone, electric, or gas substation or other public utility facilities.

Also the county will be adopting a requirement for balloon tests in which a balloon is raised to the proposed tower’s height so photographs can be taken to assist in creating a simulated photo of how the structure will look in comparison to its surroundings after construction is complete.

Frisina said the balloon test requirement was actually a request from representatives of the telecommunications industry.

“It gives you a better feel for the impact it’s going to have on the surrounding area,” Frisina said.

The new ordinance also clarifies that any application to reduce or waive any of the celltower requirements be brought before the full board of commissioners in a public hearing. Currently such matters are considered by the county’s zoning board.

Also, the new ordinance will remove an existing requirement for the county to follow its regulations for celltowers when one is placed on county-owned property.



PTC Observer's picture

This really p@#$@% me off!

I hold the entire City Council accountable for this attack on our way of life. There is no reason for them to allow towers in parks and recreation areas.

I can't image a tower in a small park like Blue Smoke. They would have to be crazy.

If the Council allows a tower in a park they should all be put out of office!!

Don Haddix's picture

For your frustration read up on:

Telecommunications Act of 1996

Then do some research on case law.

You cannot just say no to towers for any reason. You have to accommodate where there is a 'need.' Need being defined in a way with which I totally disagree.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

PTC Observer's picture

I will repeat if cell towers are allowed in city parks, anyone that votes for it should be thrown out of office.

Not withstanding the federal law, there is a degree of local control on these decisions and you know this. If you want to accommodate then accomodate them on the golf course as suggested by the phone companies. Allow private property owners to petition for variances. Don't destroy where our children play.

If you totally disagree, then don't just cave in and agree to whatever the cell phone companies tell you to do. You don't seem to be anyone's lap dog so far, why capitulate on this point so easily? Doesn't make sense. I guess you are/were spending all your time on DAPAC and Low Temp?

Its great income for the city. Get over it

PTC Observer's picture

I have no problem with the city selling sites for cell towers, I have a problem with parks as one of those locations.

There are a total of seven sites that have been selected by the cell companies as potential site. Four of the seven are not parks.

The city needs to get on the ball with this.

"Planning Commission Chairman Patrick Staples replied that the commission always “puts Peachtree City first” and he didn’t appreciate the suggestion that it didn’t."

Really Patrick? Really?

So what's the point of having citizen input with these sham commissions, associations and authorities if their attitude is "To hell with what citizens think! We know better than you."

I want my cell phone to work. I want 4-G. I've cut my landline & I want to cut my comcast Broadband. You probably won't notice it and some make it sound like Johnny will have to run around it in center field to miss the fly ball because the sun was in his eyes anyway.

PTC Observer's picture

Don't worry Johnny won't have to run around it. There won't be a field to run around on, just a 180 foot tower with a 200 foot security fence around it and equipment at the base.

Simply go look closely at these installations and imagine one in the middle of a small park like Blue Smoke Park.

Everything comes with tradeoffs, you want G4 and some want to have a place to take their children to play.

Raging stupidity.

Let's see now. Let's define "need". Little 'ol T-Mobile says they have "need". Yet other cell companies don't jump on this bandwagon till citizens get involved. (see city council mtg. minutes 11/5/09). T-Mobile is not present at meetings now, it is the big gun, the Verizon ATTORNEY.

The newest concession city staff is recommending on this to the cell companies? NO 911 emergency communication equipment on these new towers, UNLESS THE CITY PAYS THE CELL COMPANIES FOR PLACING IT ON THEIR TOWERS IN OUR PARKS? You know, the police and fire and ambulance help we all rely on? The number one reason all of us HAVE cell phones? Are they *&^%$#@@ kidding us? And OUR CITY STAFF has put this in the wording!!!!!

First vote to allow towers on city parks by anyone who represents this city? Good 'ol budget buster Eric Imker, member of Rec. Comm. last Oct. 19, who was one of a UNANIMOUS vote to let tower issue move forward. Mr. "I'm gonna slash spending". He can add "I'm gonna sell our parks, too", to his resume.

Oh, but city staff has stated over and over and over that "NO SPECIFIC AREAS HAVE BEEN MENTIONED". Lie, lie, lie. Ask David Rast how long he has known that Blue Smoke and Kedron and Braelinn and Shakerag have been the ONLY sites name by cell companies. Ask Randy Gaddo how long these parks have been the ONLY areas in this city mentioned? The smoke and mirrors answer you will get is "The city has not received any applications yet from any cell co. or tower co." Well, of course not, we have a MORATORIUM on accepting applications. Guess what, folks, that ends this coming week.

It's all about the money here. Sell our parks for money. Watch the trucks, cranes and equipment come rolling across our cart paths in the parks, watch the gravel access roads being built to go from the city streets and parking lots at the parks, across the green grass of our parks to the sites of the towers. Watch the trucks of EACH cell company (once a month MINIMUM-if 4 cell companies on one tower, that's 4 trucks MINIMUM per tower) drive to EACH tower from our neighborhood roads across our park parking lots, onto our cart paths and newly built gravel access roads to get to each tower.

How much curiosity will your child have to get up close to this equipment to see what is going on when they are playing?

Has PTC staff done it's own study of need? Has Council or Planning or Rec. ever required ANY of these companies to show DEMONSTRATED NEED????

Ask Betsy Tyler at City Hall how many complaints about lack of cell service have been received within PTC?

Is the cellular lobby poised to initiate legal action if PTC says NO open space-public (OS-P) for towers? Remember, this is about the money, everyone. Does this Council have the backbone to represent US?

It's a further erosion of our quality of life issue here in PTC, don't ya know it yet? Our public areas already look like crap, our roadways and paths are a mess. Speak up this Thursday evening.

"Has PTC staff done its own study of need?"

Yo, PTCGOIL, try reading the <a href="">"The Telecommunications Act of 1996, Section 704</a>" and then ask your question(s) again.

Google <a href=>NIMBY</a> and you’ll get your picture looking just as clueless.

The state, county, and city of PTC have few, if any options, should the wireless communications companies show a need for a tower, anywhere. They, the wireless providers, are NOT required to prove a need.

If you and the rest of the ‘unwashed’ would bother to read the law on this issue you might have some sympathy for our elected officials. They have little, if any, chance of stopping a cell tower.

The FCC and FAA are the controlling agencies that determine where and how high a cell tower can be.

As a general accepted standard, emergency services get a priority placement on cell towers. But I understand that you wouldn't understand that.

As it is accepted that radio waves from cell towers pose "little or NO risk as related to health effects" PTC will more than likely have to eat whatever the wireless providers offer. We're not the first or the last community to face this issue.

When you people, the NIMBY's, decide to do your homework and study the issue(s) then feel free to blog on.

Otherwise, quit wasting valuable blogging space.

WHO is "staff" that everyome keeps referring to that sees all and knows all about all this stuff?

No walking signs, no phone towers, 25 MPH on Robinson Ticket Road, no gas golf carts, horns on carts (people will throw rocks at you if you use one), no alcohol on Sunday, cats are not pets---members, .....

Cyclist's picture

You're a mess.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

carbonunit52's picture

My understanding, after reading the telecommunications act of 1996, section 704, that the cell tower needs a permit from the city, and should the city choose to deny the permit for that location, there must be a remedy offered to the cell company, and city must submit substantial documentation for their decision. Bottom line, PTC can keep cell towers out of public parks IF the elected officials put in the necessary efforts (not be lazy), don't just roll over and let the big bad corporate lawyers make them run home to
hide under their beds.

Talk about clueless. You haven't studied crap about the issue in this city, as I can see from your post.

The city DOES have options. They include NOT selling our parks and rec. areas for towers. This has not been brought forward because the city spends way more money than they have available, thanks to the overpaid worthless management of Bernie MacMullen. Not to mention the buy it now, pay for it later councils we've had here for the last 10 years. The focus, and ONLY focus so far has been these parks to generate money.

There are golf courses the length of this city that could take these towers. There are shopping centers that could take these towers. Have you seen the location rings? Of course not.

Why aren't the cell companies looking just outside our borders, in unincorporated Fayette County? This city is about 3.5 miles wide at it's widest border. Who believes that these companies don't have equipment that can reach that far? We already have the towers north to south that they need, in the industrial park and at city hall. They just want to go east out toward Fayetteville. Let them negotiate with property owners outside our borders.

What about microcells??? Ever hear of them? Not one word from cell companies about those. Nope, those would cost THEM money.

The city staff and council are focused on income ONLY. They want a tower behind the PD. Great, out of the way, won't bother anyone. Only problem is, it's zoned OS-P, same as our parks and rec. So, sacrifice our parks to TRY to convince them to put the tower behind the PD. Oh, and then if they DO put an application in for a park location, make the residents in that area put up one of these gawd-awful us against city hall fights that pit residents against the city council. And HOPE that council votes it down. Then, every two years going forward, the residents of this city get to concern themselves with a newly voted in council deciding to change it's vote to be in favor of any new application. Think these companies don't watch local politics and pick their moment to move in? Think they don't know how badly this city is financially?

Who said anything about health issues? Not me. It's the parks, stupid.

Tower height, yes the city DOES control the height, using FAA guidelines.

911 on these towers?? Why do you think the city has just caved in to changing the wording FROM "the right of first refusal to locate equipment at no cost..." TO "the consideration to be paid for such collocation shall be subject to negotiation between the parties." It's not about the right to place our 911 equipment there, it's now about PAYING with OUR tax dollars to put our 911 equipment on those towers.

Who has heard the direct quote from David Kirk, the attorney Verizon has hired here? Mid-July, this year, just before Sandy Springs voted NO, he had the gaul to stand up and make the implied threat, "I do hope when someone picks up their phone to dial 911 in this area, they are able to make a connection." Ohhhh...Pander to the fear factor, citizens of the world....

Then AFTER Verizon was defeated, the actual factual statement came from Verizon "We will reassess our efforts and determine what we will do next regarding this matter".

We don't have to EAT anything they throw at us. We can tell them NO to cell towers in our parks and give them alternatives that they already know about, but will involve expense on THEIR part, not OURS. GOT IT NOW?????

hutch866's picture

You figure the city can force private property owners like golf courses and shopping centers to put the towers on their property, and if they can do that, what's to stop the city from making you let the tower be put in your back yard?

I yam what I yam

For one thing <a href= are for homeowners. They do NOT cover anything close to a large area and are directly linked into either the internet or land line. Oh, and the homeowner usually pays about $100.00+ for the thing and a monthly fee of around $20.00.

Perhaps you meant to say a <a href=" Antenna System</a>" or "DAS". So much for knowing what you're talking about and/or clueless.

A carrier would, more than likely, have to lease a DAS as most don't operate or install them. Those leases usually come in 10 to 15 year increments.

911 on these towers? First of all most all carriers give the space to the communities they are trying to get approval from. Secondly, I don’t think the state, county or city can demand, for free, anything from anyone. If they can, I’d suggest that they put a tower on your roof and a gas golf cart in your garage.

What’s wrong with the city making a buck or two from the carriers?

Let’s see:
You don't want others to own gas golf carts.
You don't want cell towers anywhere where you can see them. (See NIMBY)
You don't want the city to make any money from the carriers.
Is there anything else you don't want?

Quoted right from the article above:

"Commissioner Lynda Wojcik suggested the city look at possibly allowing new celltowers on land zoned general commercial and office institutional, but that will require further study by staff and will be pushed back to a later date."

This isn't about the city forcing anyone to do anything. Any private business would still be able to say yes or no. Let the cell companies do their own negotiations.

It's about saving our parks for what they were built for, recreation, play, enjoyment, outdoor activity, relaxation, quality of life. It really is as simple as that.


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