MOUNT PLEASANT -- More public notice for neighborhoods where wireless communication towers are proposed and a new way of deciding whether to allow them are part of an ordinance the town is considering.
"Do we need to rework things when it comes to cell towers?" Town Administrator Mac Burdette said Monday.
Charleston and Charleston County have telecommunications tower ordinances. The town has some language in its zoning codes governing the issue but it needs a more comprehensive plan for handling wireless communication permit applications.
"Staff will be prepared to move this forward as soon as May," said Christiane Farrell, town planning director.
An application pending with the town seeks to add 40 feet to a 300-foot-tall tower near Awendaw. The town annexed the property, which is zoned residential. If the tower is allowed to go higher, it opens up the possibility of other companies asking for the same thing, said Kent Prause, zoning administrator.
"More people are using wireless. Apparently some have lapses in coverage," Prause said when asked about demand for new wireless service in the town.
Balanced against better wireless coverage are the concerns of homeowners who don't want new or taller towers in their neighborhoods because they consider them an eyesore that detracts from property values.
In December, the Board of Zoning Appeals upheld a town staff permit issued for a 195-foot-tall cell phone tower next to the Candlewood subdivision. At issue for some Candlewood residents was lack of public notice about the pending permit application to build the tower.
The town said letters were sent to immediately adjacent property owners notifying them of the project although they weren't required. Under the new ordinance, information about the application by SCANA to build the tower would have been posted on the property. And the Board of Zoning Appeals would have decided the case directly rather than the staff.
The town has 14 towers used for wireless communication equipment and several applications for more of the structures pending. Farrell suggested that the town encourage use of existing towers rather than building new structures.
A consultant told the committee that the 40-foot addition to the 300-foot tower is needed to improve Charleston County emergency communications.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at email@example.com or 937-5711