Local News

May 12, 2014

Commissioners turn down tower permit

— The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners rejected a proposed cellphone tower near The Farm golf course and gated community Monday night. But they acknowledged later they may not have the final word on the matter.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to deny a special use permit for a Verizon cellphone tower at 1079 Mill Creek Road in Rocky Face. The Dalton-Whitfield County Planning Commission earlier this year unanimously recommended against approving the permit. Numerous residents of the area came to that meeting and to a meeting with Verizon officials last week to express their opposition to the tower.

At the meeting last week, company representatives said the tower would not only give them better coverage around The Farm, Mill Creek Road and Dug Gap Road, it would also improve download and upload speeds for those using wireless broadband.

Commissioner Lynn Laughter, who lives at The Farm and represents that part of the county, said not all residents of the area opposed the tower.

“I did hear from some people who said they were OK with it, but it didn’t seem like anyone was passionate about having it. The people who opposed it were very passionate,” she said.

Commissioner Gordon Morehouse said he hopes Verizon will look at other options for serving the Mill Creek Road area.

At the planning commission meeting, some residents proposed placing the tower a couple of miles south of where Verizon wants it, on the former Westside landfill, which is owned by the Dalton-Whitfield Regional Solid Waste Management Authority. Company officials said last week they had looked at that alternative and it would give them the additional coverage they need but it would not give them the download speeds they want. Laughter said she was concerned that if Verizon does place a tower at the landfill it could still come back in a few years seeking to place a tower near Mill Creek Road.

Verizon has the option to challenge the denial of the permit in court under the federal Telecommunications Act. Chuck Palmer, an attorney for Verizon, was present at Monday’s meeting but declined to comment afterwards, saying he wasn’t authorized to talk.

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