Lincoln County’s Board of Commissioners approved several rezoning requests during its meeting Monday night.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve American Tower Corp.’s request to erect a 195-foot wireless telecommunications tower on Buffalo Shoals Road in the Ironton Township with the Planning Board’s revision. Last Monday, the Planning Board voted 6-0 to recommend approval under the condition that a landscaped vegetative buffer be constructed around the perimeter of the wireless telecommunications facility to effectively screen the view of the equipment compound from surrounding perspectives. The Planning Board further instructed that the buffer must consist of native trees and shrubs that mature to a height of 10 feet or greater.
Board members heard mixed feelings regarding the tower’s construction from neighboring residents during the board’s Jan. 6 meeting. Those in opposition of the tower’s construction stated that the tower’s close proximity to their place of residence would decrease their property value and increase the chances of a diesel fuel leak polluting their water supply.
At the Jan. 6 hearing, applicant Sean Hughes proposed to amend two sections of the Lincoln County Unified Development Ordinance. Section 2.2.1 would be amended to make a telecommunications tower 101 to 325 feet in height a conditional use in the R-S and R-SF districts, while Section 4.3.7 would be amended to add screening and fencing requirements for equipment compounds for telecommunications towers.
Last week, the Planning Board voted 6-0 to recommend approval with the revision that all antenna support should be enclosed by security fencing at least eight feet in height.
County Commissioner James Klein opposed amending the Lincoln County Unified Development Ordinance, suggesting the decision be tabled for a later date.
“It would seem to me that we ought to have some definition to the height as to where these things ought to go,” Klein said. “I think for us and the Planning Board to be saddled with every cell tower application in and of itself in isolation is too big of a bite of the apple for us to handle. In essence, I don’t think we’re ready for this decision.”
County Commissioner Chairman Alex Patton disagreed with Klein, stating that he would rather have the opportunity to give input on each case as it comes before the board.
“I’m not sure I want to start picking every area and determining how tall a tower can be,” Patton said. “There are a lot of variables on how tall that tower needs to be, based on their needs to get their signal out.”
In the end, county commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the proposed amendment with the Planning Board’s revision, with Klein in opposition.
County commissioners voted unanimously to allow applicants Steven and Danielle Maggs to rezone their property from a Neighborhood Business to Conditional Zoning General Industrial to permit the expansion of their self-storage facility. The property, located on the west side of N.C. 16 Business, is approximately 250 feet north of Galway Lane in the Catawba Springs Township. Last week, Planning Board voted 6-0 to recommend their approval.
Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization member Bjorn Hansen spoke with county commissioners regarding potential improvements for the area public transportation systems. The recommendations for Transportation Lincoln County includes purchasing additional vehicles, building park and ride lots for both East and West Lincoln, developing van pools, expanding the hours of service and expanding the deviated route service.
Klein opposed pursuing the improvements to transportation.
“While I appreciate the service [Hansen] provides, asking the state for money they don’t have and the Feds for money which they clearly don’t have is not in my best interest,” Klein said.
County commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the MPO proposal, with Klein in opposition.
The Planning Board and county commissioners’ next Zoning Public Hearing will be held Feb. 3 at 6:30pm at the Citizens Center.