Board offers cell tower guidelines

Thursday, February 14, 2002

A company wishing to build a telecommunication or cell phone tower within the city limits of Cape Girardeau will have to prove it cannot share an existing tower within a one-mile radius, according to an ordinance proposed at a Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday night.

The recommendation, which includes seven conditions, came as the result of the city's cell tower subcommittee meeting Tuesday night.

The planning and zoning commission voted unanimously to submit the proposal to the city council.

The council will discuss the ordinance at Tuesday night's meeting.

A map listing 42 towers within the city was presented to the planning commission.

According to the suggested ordinance, the cell tower must be designed to share at least two other providers at reasonable terms.

The design of the tower and accessory structures also must effectively blend within the surrounding natural setting and environment. In many cities, cell antennae have been hidden in existing structures such as church steeples. On Kingshighway, one is hidden in a flagpole.

Intended vagueness

Some planning commissioners thought the wording in some of the provisions was a bit vague, but cell tower subcommittee chairman Skip Smallwood said the vagueness was intended.

"This will all be done on a case-by-case basis," said Smallwood, who is also a member of the planning commission. "I felt like we addressed the issues and got a balanced proposal. This presents some good guidelines and everyone knows what is expected, especially with co-use."

Also under the proposal, a tower must be set back from any public street a minimum distance equal to the height of the tower.

This provision makes sure that if a tower fell, it would not fall onto a city street, said Martha Brown, a staff member of the city's planning services.

The proposal also requires the tower applicant to meet all federal regulations and provides removal guidelines.

In other business, the planning commission will recommend to the city council the approval of a special-use permit for a radio and microwave transmission tower and a building and equipment setback for the Big River Telephone Co.

The tower already exists, but the new telephone company had to apply for the permit when it bought the property from LDD Inc.

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