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City Council extends permit for com tower

Split vote breaks with Planning Board recommendation, angry neighbors

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

A split vote from the Lincolnton City Council will give Pegasus Tower Company more time to decide whether to build a communications tower on Startown Road, despite objections from neighbors and a recommendation from the city Planning Board that the company be turned down.
The matter was one of three public hearings for conditional-use permits the city conducted during its Thursday night meeting.
The application from Pegasus sought the renewal of a conditional-use permit issued in 2007 that would allow for the construction of a 195-feet-tall steel lattice tower on the west side of Startown Road, roughly 2,000 feet south of the intersection of Startown Road and Clark Creek Road. It would serve as a communications tower for mobile phone companies.
Harold Timmons, who represented Pegasus Tower Company and also did so in 2007, told council members that the company was requesting an extension, even though construction has not yet occurred due to “economic reasons.”
Timmons said that, as a direct result of the economy, development proposals are down across the country. When council member Devin Rhyne asked whether there were any firm plans for construction of the tower at this time, Timmons said he wished he could say there were.
But he also said it would be a hassle to have to come back later and reapply for approval should the opportunity arise, saying he hoped council members would understand the company’s difficulties and allow it to hold on to the potential to develop the site. Council member Dr. John “Les” Cloninger also confirmed that there had been no changes regarding the conditional-use permit since 2007.
Nonetheless, the Lincolnton Planning Board had voted 4-3 to recommend rescinding the approval of the permit and have the applicant come back with a proposal when there are firm development plans and the market is better-suited for tower development.
Additionally, nearby residents of the proposed tower site voiced their concerns with the project.
Michael Isaacs cited aesthetic reasons as his primary issue with the tower. He also presented a petition with 52 signatures opposing it.
“I see no benefit in this structure at this time or any time in the future,” he stressed.
Another resident expressed his concern over how the tower may impact the value of his property, which he someday hopes to sell. He also asked that, if council members approve the permit renewal, they consider the possibility of camouflage towers to limit the visual appearance of the structure.
Ultimately, council members voted 3-1, with Rhyne opposing, to approve the permit for an additional two years, provided required conditions are met.
In other City Council action:
Council members unanimously approved an application from Alex Davis requesting a conditional-use permit that would allow for a business center/Internet sweepstakes use in the planned-business district. The property is located at the Lincoln Center.
Council members discussed a proposed contract between the city and Lincoln County for a facilities charge for lighting at the Lincoln campus of Gaston College, but they delayed taking action on it until the March 1 meeting, during which a public hearing will also be required.
Council members unanimously approved a proposed contract for the cleaning of the City Hall roof and duct system. Roof repairs will be conducted by Johnson’s Roof Service for nearly $6,000, while Advanta Clean will perform the duct work for $2,470. This work is necessary due to a buildup of mold found on ceiling tiles and the roof. After these materials were tested, mold spores were identified.
Council members unanimously approved a contract with East Coast Pyrotechnics in the amount of $10,000 to provide the city’s fireworks for this year’s Fourth of July celebration.
Council members unanimously approved a resolution to establish and offer a lighting rebate program.
Council members unanimously approved a lease extension for the offices of the Downtown Development Association.
Council members continued discussion on amending the city’s fee schedule regarding deposits for residential customers. A public hearing will be required at the next meeting, when council members will also take action on the proposal.
Planning Director Laura Simmons gave an update on Ingles, saying the grocery chain had obtained a building permit on Jan. 9 to begin construction, which should take roughly eight months. The Asheville-based company acquired the former textile mill property in Boger City in 2009, but its plans for the site have been delayed by negotiations with CSX railroad, whose track is located just south of the property.

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