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6/22/2005
New Castle County code requirements for communications towers

WHAT THE LAW SAYS

New Castle County code requirements for communications towers:

1. Can be built in any kind of zoning district with a special-use permit. Rezoning or variances are not required.

2. Must be set back from adjoining property at least one-third the height of the tower. Example: a 120-foot tower must have 40 feet of space from the next property line.

3. Must allow co-location, which is the addition of at least one other company's equipment on the tower. This requirement attempts to control the number of towers in one area.

4. No signs are permitted on the tower.

5. Any tower not operated for six months is considered abandoned. If not removed in 90 days, the county may remove it at the owner's expense.

Planned cell tower angers neighbors
Residents fear T-Mobile's proposed structure off Naamans would be a hazardous eyesore
By ANGIE BASIOUNY / The News Journal
06/22/2005

Some residents of neighborhoods near the corner of Foulk and Naamans roads are fighting a proposal by T-Mobile to erect a 120-foot communications tower the company says it needs to improve its coverage in the area.

T-Mobile has applied for a special-use permit to build the tower behind the Safeway grocery store at 2522 Foulk Road. The land is owned by Goodman Properties, which would also own the tower and lease space on the structure to T-Mobile.

A hearing was scheduled in May before the Board of Adjustment, but T-Mobile postponed it to try to get support from residents in the surrounding developments of Crestfield, Talley Farms and Cedar Tree Apartments.

The company said the tower would most benefit customers in the area who use cell phones indoors, where the coverage is currently unreliable.

"Obviously, with these types of structures, not everybody's in love with them. But they're a necessary evil," said John Tracey, an attorney representing T-Mobile, during a meeting last week with about 25 residents. "Cell phone use is increasing, and with that demand comes an increase in the need for services."

He said the company looked at existing sites where they could place equipment, including atop the Claymont and Bethel, Pa., firehouses or the Cliff House Condominiums. The firehouses were too far away to close the gaps in coverage, and the condo association said no.

Residents said they fear the effects a tower would have on their health, property values and the look of the landscape, which is a mixture of stores and homes with plenty of tall shade trees.

But Councilman Robert Weiner, who spearheaded the county's 1996 ordinance creating requirements for communications towers, told residents they wouldn't win their argument based on emotion.

The Board of Adjustment, which is a judicial arm of the county, typically approves applications that meet all the code requirements. An argument about health would not work, for example, because the federal government has found no evidence of adverse health effects from cell phone signals.

"A lot of these arguments that have been made will fall on deaf ears," said Phil Lavelle, a chairman with the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred, a civic umbrella group. "I think the process works better if we can work with [the company] to find a more acceptable location."

Talley Farms resident Dan Rosenthal agreed.

"I don't think anybody is enamored of the site," he said. However, if a compromise can't be reached "then we need to band together as a community and find legitimate reasons that will convince the board why they should not put a tower there."

Tracey said the company would continue exploring other sites, including a few suggested by the residents. Lancashire Elementary School on Naamans Road could be a possibility.

Weiner, who hosted the meeting along with Councilman John Cartier, said he's encouraged that residents and company representatives will keep talking.

"Although there were some sharp words from residents concerned about their quality of life, there appears to be some opportunity for compromise," he said.

Contact Angie Basiouny at 324-2796 or abasiouny@delawareonline.com.

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