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County Planning Commission approves new wireless tower on Wilderness Road

April 20, 2018

A plan to erect a new wireless communication tower on Wilderness Road north of Aiken received unanimous approval from the Aiken County Planning Commission on Thursday night.

The vote was 7-0.

Denise Fulmer made a motion to accept the proposal, and Jet Beckum seconded it.

Panel member Ronald Wood was absent from the meeting, which was held in the Sandlapper Room in the Aiken County Government Center.

Commission Chairwoman Terri Turner left before the panel considered the tower plan, saying she had to go to another meeting.

The Verizon Wireless tower will be 109 feet tall and will have lightning rod that is 9 feet long.

“The primary objective of this site is to provide capacity relief for an existing Verizon Wireless location at Wire Road and I-20,” said David Kirk, who represented Verizon Wireless at the meeting. “That site is at its capacity essentially, and it will be reaching its limit soon. The (new tower) site also will greatly improve coverage along Gooseneck Road and the surrounding area.”

Kevin Falcon, who lives across the road from the land where the new tower will be located, expressed concern about the value of his property dropping.

He also was worried that the tower would have a strobe light like the one on the tower on Wire Road near I-20.

“The strobe light is supposed to stop at dusk, and a red light comes on overnight,” Falcon said. “But the strobe light stays on for an hour after it gets dark, so if you ride down Wire Road right after you get off the interstate, you see this constant flash. Am I going to see a constant flash (from the new tower) for an hour after dusk every night?”

In response to that question, Kirk told Falcon that the new tower’s size would be “under the threshold that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires for lighting, so there will not be a flashing light – day or night – on this tower.”

Addressing the issue raised by Falcon about the value of his property decreasing, Kirk said: “There is about 650 feet of forest between the road and the tower site. Additionally, the road is set down a little bit, so I would be surprised, quite frankly – even in daylight – if the tower would be visible. So I think it would have absolutely no effect on property value.”

Kirk is an attorney who is a partner in the firm Troutman Sanders LLP, and he is based in its Atlanta office.

In other action earlier in the meeting, the Commission voted unanimously to extend, for one year, the preliminary plat approval for Section 4 of the Gregg’s Mill subdivision on Sudlow Lake Road in the Graniteville area.

In other unanimous decisions, the Commission approved changes in plans involving zoning issues for the Anderson Farms and Graylyn Meadows/Graylyn Lakes residential developments in the Anderson Pond Road area near Aiken.

Turner was present when the Gregg’s Mill, Anderson Farms and Graylyn Meadows/Graylyn Lakes proposals were presented, but she didn’t vote.

In the Anderson Farms matter, the Commission’s decision actually was a recommendation to Aiken County Council, which will be considering the request later.

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