Shenandoah County approves new wireless tower

By Alex Bridges

Shentel can move forward with plans to bring higher speed wireless service to Shenandoah County and other communities.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a special-use permit requested by Shenandoah Mobile LLC and Kickin Rentals IV LLC to build a 199-foot monopole telecommunications tower on property at 1503 Cottontown Road. The board also approved the associated site plan that outlines the construction of the tower and accompanying building. Shenandoah Mobile, also known as Shentel, seeks to build the tower to provide Sprint 4G LTE wireless service.

Shentel leases space on the Kickin Rentals property and operates antennae and related communications equipment mounted on an existing 179-foot tower that was approved and installed in 2003. Documents provided by planning officials show the new pole would be built near the existing, lattice-style tower.

But in order to upgrade to 4G, Shentel needs to build a tower that can structurally withstand stresses from wind and ice as well as the weight of the equipment on the tower, according to information provided to the county by Lynn Koemer, site acquisition contractor for the telecommunications company.

Reports by NB&C Engineering Services LLC indicate the existing tower is at 173.5 percent of its loading capacity and is not structurally suitable to add more weight. Shentel advised the county in its application that it would cost much more to redesign and upgrade the existing tower than to build a new monopole.

Specifically, the monopole will be 195 feet tall with a 4-foot lightning rod.

The site is surrounded by residential and agricultural property, including a subdivision. The county zoning ordinance limits telecommunications towers to 200 feet. The county Office of Community Development received no complaints or concerns from residents related to the existing tower. The closest adjacent property line lies approximately 600 feet from the proposed tower site and meets the requirement that the distance equals 110 percent of the structure’s height.

Other than representatives of the applicant no one spoke at the joint public hearing held June 5 by the Planning Commission and the supervisors. The commission recommended that supervisors approve the requests.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com