Residents raise concerns about plan for cellphone tower

This entrance to Eaglewood Retreat and to the James Island Youth Soccer Fields also leads to the location of a proposed 180-foot-tall cell tower off Fort Johnson Road.

A James Island soccer group’s plan to rent a patch of its fields for a cellphone tower has some neighbors upset.

The 180-foot-tall tower would be near Eaglewood Retreat, an enclave of about 60 homes off Fort Johnson Road.

“Out of all the open spaces it has to be right there? Right next to a community? It’s going to dominate the horizon,” said Eaglewood townhome owner Steve Liverani.

James Island Youth Soccer Club, which owns 16 acres next to Eaglewood, wants to lease 3,600 square feet for the tower. The agreement would quadruple revenue for field maintenance, the club said.

Club President Warren Sloane said that if the zoning change is approved, the resulting increased revenue for the group would mean it could afford to plant Bermuda grass and buy a new tractor, he said.

“It’s going to allow us to make the fields so much better,” he said.

American Tower Corporation approached the club about leasing the land next to one of its parking areas. The soccer group has been negotiating with the homeowners, Sloane said.

Eaglewood resident Kate Pratt likened the tower to an 18-story building. It would be on a wooded corner of the soccer fields near the entrance to the subdivision.

James Island Town Council will have to approve a zoning change for the tower to be built.

“In my opinion, it’s good zoning. Leave it the way it is. There’s other ways for nonprofits to generate revenues,” she said.

A nine foot fence topped with barbed wire will surround the tower, she said.

“It just doesn’t seem appropriate for this area. My goal is to raise public awareness. People should know what’s being proposed,” Pratt said.

She said the tower will be readily visible from anywhere in Eaglewood. The closest homes are about 60 yards away, she said.

Town Council will hold a public hearing on the cell tower plan during its regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 19. Jonathan Yates, an attorney for American Tower Corporation, will discuss the project at a Town Hall “neighborhood meeting” at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 12.

Mayor Bill Woolsey said that he had not made up his mind on the issue. The soccer club is an asset to James Island and there are residents who complain of spotty cellphone service that the tower would correct, he said.

“I will definitely listen to what the immediate neighbors think,” he said.

Yates said he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

An application on file at Town Hall says the tower would serve Verizon and three competitors. It would take 30 days to construct.

The applicant states that the location for the tower has “incredible perimeter tree cover” which will help hide the structure from the surrounding area.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711