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Planning board approves construction of cell tower

Wil Petty jpetty@civitasmedia.com

February 27, 2014

Those who have their cell phone service with AT&T will soon have better service in northern parts of the county.


A new tower, under construction near Crumpler, will have AT&T as an occupant. There will be space for three additional servers, such as Verizon or the county’s emergency services to be on the tower.


The Ashe County Planning Board unanimously approved the cell tower.


Representing the approval of the tower was David Pokela of Greensboro-based Nexsen-Pruet. The tower will be constructed by American Tower, based in Boston.


“Because every jurisdiction is concerned about co-location opportunities, we gave consideration to county-owned properties,” Pokela said at the Feb. 20 meeting. “We gave consideration to those locations, but they did not fit the needs.”


This tower will be located in Crumpler, near Chandler Concrete. It would help provide service on N.C. 16 going toward Virginia and parts of U.S. 221 going toward Alleghany County.


Before deciding on the location, the engineers looked at three sites in close proximity. Those were: Family Central, Mountain View Elementary School and the Ashe County Airport.


Adam Stumb, the planning director for Ashe County also added that with those locations being near the airport’s runway, it was not a good idea to have a 200 foot tower at those locations.


When talking about additional space on the tower, board member Rick Surber asked if there was anything on the county’s ordinance about the county services having priority on cell towers.


“I don’t know if it is priority,” Stumb said. “It is worded so the county does have an option in the space in the future if it is needed for emergency services.”


Stumb said there was little concern about lack of emergency coverage for service in the Crumpler area, and most of those concerns were in the northwestern part of the county.


The tower will stand at 199 feet, which is the maximum height a tower can be within the county. Pokela said American Tower had gone through all of the requirements and regulations to make sure everything would be legal.


“All in all, I think we have submitted an application that meets the ordinance,” he said. “There is a demonstrated need in the area.”


The main goal is to improve cell reception throughout the county, especially on the N.C. 16 and U.S. 221 corridors. Last year, the board approved another cell tower near Crumpler and in recent months, several towers have been approved in Wilkes and Alleghany counties.


Pokela said AT&T is trying to decrease its dead zones within North Carolina and has been focusing heavily throughout the rural areas.


Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty