NK tower numbers on rise
Twenty-five. That’s current total for wireless communications towers dotting the landscape in New Kent County. And recent approval of three more, including one just last week, will eventually up the number to 28.
By a 4-1 vote during their June 14 meeting, supervisors approved a permit application submitted by Richmond-based Clear Signal Towers and property owner Lawrence E. Christian to erect a 195-foot monopole tower on a five-acre tract located at 3361 Quaker Road.
Board chairman Marty Sparks cast the lone dissenting vote at last week’s meeting. He pointed to a recent surge in tower permit applications (another two are before the county) and the fact that only one cell phone carrier has committed to locating an antenna at the Quaker Road site.
“We’ve got to keep in mind that towers are popping up everywhere, and we have only one antenna committed here,” he said. “We may have to start thinking about requiring more antennas.”
Clear Signal CEO Dorothy Brunetti told the board she expects more carriers to sign on. She also said the recent tower proliferation is spurred by antennas receiving signal overloads from the ever increasing number of devices people employ. She added that towers are now being built closer together in order to handle the signal increase.
Public hearings on the recent permit applications have generated little to no complaints. Last week’s hearing on Clear Towers’ application attracted just five speakers with only one voicing opposition.
Quaker Woods Drive resident Georgia Desper presented a petition bearing names of 29 county residents, most living on Quaker Woods Drive and Quaker Road, who are opposed. Saying the tower would ruin their view and lower property values on the home they had bought for raising their children and retirement, she tearfully implored supervisors to reject the application.
“It may sound petty, but this is going to ruin what our dreams have been,” she told the board.
County planning staff, meanwhile, had recommended denial based on the tower site violating the county’s 750-foot setback requirement from existing houses. But by approving the application, supervisors waived the requirement.
“Most landowners are concerned about [cell phone] coverage,” District 1 Supervisor Thomas Evelyn said, just before voting for District 4 representative Stran Trout’s motion for approval. “We’ve got to look out for what’s best for most New Kent residents.”