MOUNT PLEASANT -- The Board of Zoning Appeals on Monday night upheld a town permit issued for a 195-foot-tall cell phone tower next to the Candlewood subdivision off Mathis Ferry Road.
At issue was whether Zoning Administrator Kent Prause acted within his authority in granting the permit to SCANA for the $250,000 tower. After hearing more than two hours of arguments, a majority of the board decided that Prause had acted appropriately in his decision.
"I wouldn't want this in my backyard either, but I think Mr. Prause did his job," said board Vice Chairman Charles Moore Jr.
Homeowners Mark Bevivino and Alan Lincoln filed separate appeals of Prause's decision. Homeowner Ted Hallman said he had collected a petition with 159 signatures of Candlewood residents opposed to the tower.
"We feel like it is a monstrosity. We're just outraged, to be honest with you," Hallman told the board.
Much of the discussion of the appropriateness of Prause's decision centered on provisions in the zoning code concerning telecommunications towers, particularly whether they detract from the aesthetics or character of the neighborhood. A lot of discussion also centered on whether the homeowners were notified that SCANA planned to build the tower.
Prause said he is not required under town code to notify homeowners about his permit decision but that he did it as a courtesy to some of them who abut the SCANA property. Attorneys for SCANA and AT&T said they followed all rules and regulations in the permitting process. A legal notice of the plan to build the tower was published in The Post and Courier, they noted. Construction of the tower began Oct. 6, and it was finished soon afterward.
Fewer than a dozen residents received a letter notifying them about the project. Some complained Monday night that the letter did not tell them they had 30 days to appeal Prause's decision. Prause said Monday that he received no response from the letters notifying some of the Candlewood residents and the Snee Farm Homeowners Association that he was issuing a permit for the tower.
Homeowners said they worried that the tower will cause their homes to depreciate in value. They also raised concerns about whether radio frequencies from the tower would be harmful to their health. The tower is on SCANA property on Whipple Road where an SCE&G substation also is located.
The vote to uphold the permit was 4-2. Board members Dave Wilcox and Donald Gwinnup cast the dissenting votes.