T-Mobile has sued the City of Johns Creek following the City’s denial of its application to build a 134-foot cell tower on Rogers Circle.
The Johns Creek decision came after a public hearing in which five people, including a representative of the current owner of the property, spoke against the tower.
Resident Lisa Muzi presented the council with a petition signed by more than 700 residents in opposition to the tower.
Jay Stroman, vice president for advancement at Young Harris College, said as trustee of the property, the college is committed to maintaining its value. A cell tower, he said, could diminish the property value by as much as half, he said.
The college assumed ownership of the property in July, following the death of the former owner whose family had been working with T-Mobile.
City council members pointed out that the proposed site is in one of Johns Creek’s last rural areas and contains numerous historic sites. They also said they were not convinced the company explored alternatives to the site.
In its court filing, attorneys for T-Mobile said the company performed all the studies and met all the requirements set out in the city’s ordinance. It further acceded to any conditions for landscaping and buffers recommended by the planning staff.
The council’s decision, the company attorneys argued, was made in bad faith and has caused T-Mobile unnecessary trouble and expense.
Looking down the double-barrel of a petition signed by 341 citizens and a crowded room, the Roswell City Council unanimously rejected a plan to allow cell towers at the fire station on Jones Road and Lake Charles Drive. T-Mobile South applied to the city to lease land at the fire station to erect a 150-foot cell tower.
Government and public properties are currently acceptable sites for cell towers under the city’s zoning ordinance. On February 9, the City Council will vote on amendment to the wireless communication facility master plan striking the fire station from the list of acceptable sites for cell towers and will approve existing cell towers in annexed areas, commercial and industrial zoning and government sites.
Roswell City Council approves an additional 13 feet in height for the cell tower located in the Hembree Park allowing the tower to stand 193 feet tall. The decision to allow additional height was to encourage co-location of another cell provider on the same tower and to avoid the proposed cell tower on city-owned land at the corner of Jones and Lake Charles roads.
The Sandy Springs City Council voted 5-1 to approve four 303-foot radio towers at the northeast, southeast, northwest and southwest corners of Blue Heron Golf Course on Morgan Falls Road. The approval will allow Sandy Springs Broadcasting LLC and its parent company, American Media Services LLC (both based in Charleston) to construct the four radio towers to create a local radio station, possibly within the Sandy Springs city limits.
The council also granted, under the recommendation of city staff, variances that allowed the towers to exceed the 300-foot maximum height requirement and be located within .25 mile of an existing Georgia Power Co. power lines and two other radio towers.
The approval was not without dissenters. Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny cast the only dissenting vote.
“I have very serious concerns about the public benefit of having a radio station operate in our community in greenspace,” said Ms. McEnerny. “In return for four towers, with a variance that’s required, and a visible light for 40-plus years, the offset is that we’re going to have a radio station that every hour on the hour broadcast our [city’s] name? … I don’t see any jobs being created.”
Sandy Springs Council of Neighbors Zoning Chairman Trisha Thompson also opposed the towers.
“Over and over and over again, every one of you have said that we need more greenspace in Sandy Springs,” Ms. Thompson said to the City Council. “All of you have been fighting for more greenspace and for park space for the children of Sandy Springs. … Why in the world are you putting a radio tower [near Morgan Falls Park] that will last and last and last? It will be a blight on the community and take away the very greenspace that you’ve been crying for.”
On May 13, 2008, the United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia held that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA), 47 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., does not preempt state or local zoning powers so long as local governments (1) do not unreasonably discriminate among providers; (2) prohibit personal wireless services; or, (3) limit placement of wireless facilities based upon “environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.”
The Court held that a local zoning ordinance that established aesthetic-based guidelines for placement of wireless, cellular, television and radio telecommunications towers and antennas was a reasonable and proper exercise of local governments exercise of its zoning and police powers and was not preempted by TCA.
Keep reading for GZB’s summary of Southeast Towers, LLC v. Pickens County, United States District Court, Northern District, Gainesville Division, Civil Action File No. 2:06-CV-0172-RWS, decided May 13, 2008.