“Wait…I’m going to lose you..I’m heading into a dead zone.”
If you are traveling west out of Culpeper on Route 522, or heading east into Culpeper via Route 522, you’ll reach a point where your cell phone most likely will go dead. There’s no signal, no connection. That scenario could well change in the near future.
Communicating in today’s high tech environment increasingly gives rise to cell towers to make that happen. They can range from 100 to 400 feet high and will often accommodate several wireless service providers. Business, industry and the general public’s quality of life is enhanced by this wireless communications infrastructure. The impact is thought to be positive.
There will be a public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 12, to receive comments on an application for a Special Use Permit to construct a 250 foot lattice telecommunications tower adjacent to Route 522 (Sperryville Pike), near the town of Boston. The project will be located on a leased portion of Tax Map Parcel #17-17A. This parcel, owned by Anderson and Sons Builders, Inc, is currently undeveloped. It consists of 10.07 acres of land and is zoned R1.
The applicant, CWS VII, LLC, is proposing a tower that has been designed to accommodate the equipment and antennas of at least four wireless service providers. Access to the compound area will be via an existing gravel driveway extending from the existing entrance off of Twin Lakes Lane. The tower will be located in a 50 foot by 100 foot compound surrounded by an eight foot high chain link fence.
According to the applicant’s submission, the location was selected due to its proximity to the targeted area coverage and taking into consideration topography and natural screening surrounding the area for the proposed tower and compound. A high power voltage power line corridor is adjacent to the site. The site is well screened from most vantage points along Route 522 by existing trees and other vegetation. There are some views from the top section of the structure from nearby residences the closest being 400 feet to the southeast.
The facility will have no impact on air quality, water quality, light pollution (it will be lit in accordance with FAA requirements), noise pollution, traffic congestion or circulation. It meets all safety requirements. It will be unmanned and, once constructed, visits to the site will be minimal perhaps no more than two trips per month for routine maintenance purposes.
Once operational, coverage will be provided along Route 522, a prominent east-west corridor in the county. Wireless communications will be enhanced for citizens, businesses, visitors, and emergency personnel in Culpeper County, the town of Boston and in surrounding areas including eastern Rappahannock County. Providers planning to locate on the structure include Virginia Broadband (VABB), an internet service provider active in Culpeper, as well as Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
According to the application, no portion of the parcel is located in a floodplain or Resource Protection Area. There are no known wetlands onsite. No storm water management is required.
A cultural resources survey of the proposed facility is underway in accordance with the terms of the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the construction of new cell towers. A Phase 1 archaeological survey was conducted within the footprint of all potential ground disturbing areas (the construction area and access road), including visual inspection and shovel testing. No cultural materials or features were identified. Visual inspection ruled out the possibility of historic or archaeological features. The project has been submitted to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for review.
What about an earthquake? Breakpoint technology will be used in the tower design to ensure that in the event of a collapse the tower will fall within the parcel.
Route 522 is a designated Virginia Scenic Byway. The proposed tower will be 1,985 feet from Route 522 and due to topography and screening, views of the tower from this road are limited and for the most part distant.
The proposal is consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan goals to encourage the location of cell towers in nonresidential areas, encourage the joint use of new and existing tower sites, minimize visual impact and minimize adverse impact on community.
The applicant is no stranger to the creation of cell towers. In July of 2015, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution approving the requested conditional use permit for a 195 foot lattice broadcasting or communication tower with a four foot lightning rod, with conditions, by CWS VII, LLC.
The Culpeper County Planning Commission will review and hold a public hearing of the applicant’s request on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. in the county administration building located at 302 N. Main Street.