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Decision on tower delayed

Supervisors are concerned about line-of-sight issues

By J.R. Williams -- jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Frederick County supervisors have again postponed action on an 80-foot communications tower for joint use by the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration.

At their meeting on Wednesday, board members were concerned that a line-of-sight path required by the tower would interfere with existing communications or restrict neighbors from installing their own equipment.

Al Rhett, an FAA project engineer based in Washington, could only say that the tower would be used to communicate with another government site 10 miles away, and that the link would be used for voice, data and video.

"It is a must-have site," he said.

He declined to answer several questions supervisors posed about the Marcel Drive facility, including how many employees work there or where exactly a satellite on top of the pole would be transmitting.

The tower also would be available for public purposes, such as emergency communications, planning documents state. It would not be available for commercial use.

Ron Mislowsky, a planner for Patton, Harris, Rust and Associates speaking on behalf of neighboring landowners, asked that supervisors place no restrictions on the landowners.

Rhett said they likely would not be restricted.

Supervisors voted to postpone action on the conditional-use permit required to build the tower until line-of-sight information could be provided.

A vote on the tower was postponed at an Aug. 12 meeting, when neither the landowner nor the applicant was present.

Supervisors will reconsider the request at their next meeting after the line-of-sight information is provided.

According to an agreement with the county, the FAA would be required to remove the tower should operations cease at the facility.

In other business, the Board of Supervisors:

* Approved a request from Frederick County Registrar Rick Miller for $24,728 for the purchase of election equipment.

The equipment will enable pollworkers to scan a voter's driver's license or other approved identification on Election Day.

Some 120 bar-code scanners and 100 refurbished computers will be purchased at a discount through a state program for use in future elections. Virginia is requiring all jurisdictions to switch to electronic voter identification methods.

The new equipment will not be in service during this year's elections.

* Unanimously approved installing "watch for children" signs in the Glenmont Village subdivision, at Ashley Drive and Ashley Circle.

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