By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Adjustments and Appeals will hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. Wednesday in City Hall’s building department for two variance requests C Spire Wireless is making for a cellular tower near the Stark Crossing subdivision.
According to a report from Assistant City Planner Pamela Daniel, the tower’s proposed location is immediately south of Stark Crossing’s Abernathy Drive. City law typically requires cellular towers to be at least 2,640 feet from the nearest residential district, the report says, but C Spire is asking to build the tower 60 feet away from the district.
Another city law typically requires cellular towers to be set back from all other property at a distance equal to or greater than the tower’s height, the report says. The proposed tower is 100 feet tall, the report says, but C Spire is requesting a variance for a 60-foot setback distance.
Daniel said the second ordinance exists primarily to prevent falling cellular towers from damaging property. Dave Miller, C Spire media relations manager, said C Spire’s engineers have mitigated the risks of making an exception to this ordinance.
“The design we’re submitting is for a cell (tower) that will actually collapse if there is any kind of ... environmental problem,” Miller said. “It’s designed to collapse within a 50-foot radius. There wouldn’t be any encroachment past the 60-foot radius. We’re actually going to have one of our engineers there (at the public hearing) to answer any questions.”
Daniel said the other ordinance exists primarily to prevent cellular towers from impinging on neighborhood aesthetics. The weight of this issue largely depends on the concern of citizens near the proposed tower site, she said, and as of Tuesday, no citizens had raised such concerns to the city.
“To date, we have had absolutely no inquiries,” Daniel said. “Notifications went out July 6 to property owners within 300 feet of where the tower is proposed to be erected.”
Previously, C Spire representatives came before the board as well as the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission concerning a different tower location near Pinelake Baptist Church. C Spire’s request faced opposition from RMR Investment Company, LLC in Memphis, Tenn, which owned 300 acres adjacent to C Spire’s proposed location.
Representatives from RMR expressed concern about the tower adversely affecting its property value and suggested the new location currently up for discussion. C Spire’s studies concluded the new location would still meet the company’s objectives: increasing coverage and network capacity.