Planning Commission : Minutes : 4.27.11

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PLANNING COMMISSION
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Present: Ms. Philippa Proulx, Ms. Emily Hunt, Ms. Linda Russell and Mr. Mike Tapager

Absent: Mr. Mike Harman and Ms. Connie Brennan (Board Liaison)

CLASS I COMMUNICATION TOWER/AT&T/WATERWORKS LANE: Deferred by applicant.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS/SMALL WIND ENERGY/COMMUNICATION TOWER: Commissioners have drafted amendments to allow small wind energy systems on parcels of land of 20 acres or more with a height of greater than 100 feet but less than 199 feet in the Conservation, Agricultural, Industrial M-2 and Limited Industrial M-1 Districts.

In addition, the Commissioners have reviewed and drafted revisions to Article 20 Communication Tower Ordinance to include Broadband regulations, new and updated definitions and updated regulations for pole diameters and antenna sizes. The draft provides for four classes of towers as follows:

Class I – maximum height of 85 feet with approval of the Planning and Zoning Director;

Class II – maximum height of 130 feet with approval of the Planning Commission;

Class III – requires approval of a Special Use Permit by the Board of Supervisors; and

Class IV – Broadband, License Exempt Provider with approval by the Planning and Zoning Director

During the Public Hearing on the proposed amendments, MR. ROBERT CHAFFINCH, Shipman, expressed his concerns with health issues related to wireless technology. He said that if the ordinance is passed, it should contain regulations for precautionary protections and health monitoring, especially for the elderly and children.

MS. LORI SCHWELLER, attorney representing Verizon Wireless, said that Verizon supports the draft ordinance but has concerns with the Section 20-5-17(8)d. which limits the antenna size to 1,152 square inches and Section 20-5-17(b) which limits the base and top diameters of a metal monopole. Ms. Schweller said that the county encourages co-location but the diameter size restrictions would prohibit co-location as the diameter is based on the height of the pole and the equipment mounted on the pole. In addition, she said that the county has said that it does not want larger arrays of antennas but the surface size limits would prohibit multiple technology arrays.

MR. JIM DAVEY, Lovingston, said that he is desperate for high speed internet and supports the ordinance.

Following the public hearing, Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval of the amendments to the Small Wind Energy Systems ordinance, Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 8A, 8B, 9 and 18.

Commissioners discussed the two issues raised by Ms. Schweller in the draft Communication Tower Ordinance. They agreed to consensus to change the language to remove Section 20-5-17(b) – diameter requirements; and to add the statement “required distance from pole and antennas size may be modified by the final approving authority” to Section 20-5-17(8)d. They voted unanimously to recommend approval of the repeal and reenactment of Article 20. Ms. Russell said that her understanding is that the county cannot deny a tower permit based on health concerns but suggested that the county have Mr. Payne (County Attorney) review the draft ordinance relative to FCC regulations on the issue.

Meeting continued to Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:00pm at the Courthouse for a Comp Plan Work Session.

Minutes courtesy of www.ruralnelson.org

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