Peachtree City’s new proposed cell tower ordinance, which would allow new towers to be built in parks and recreation areas with approval of the City Council, will be up for consideration by the council Thursday night.
The ordinance will require all new cell tower applications to be voted on by the City Council after they are reviewed with a vote of recommendation for or against by the city Planning Commission.
Cell companies will also be required to notify nearby property owners of any proposed new cell tower site.
The potential for new cell towers in city parks and recreation areas has drawn flak from some residents who strongly oppose the concept.
The ordinance does not require the city to allow cell towers in parks and recreation areas. Some officials have argued that the allowance gives the city more options to control a new cell tower through a lease than are allowed in the city’s ordinance.
One new aspect of the ordinance is the requirement of a four-hour balloon test for each proposed new cell tower location. During the test, a balloon will be raised to the height of the proposed tower so citizens can see how the tower will fit in with its surroundings.
Balloon tests must be done on a weekend day and also must be advertised in advance with a notice published in the city’s legal organ, the ordinance requires.
The setbacks in the ordinance require that any cell tower support structure be 200 feet from any adjoining residential property line, 200 feet from any public right of way and 50 feet from any abutting property not zoned for residential use.
Also, the cell tower and support structures must be 250 feet away from any property line abutting a school or place of worship.
The city also will be limiting tower height to a maximum of 180 feet.
The ordinance will allow new cell towers to be placed on lots zoned light industrial, general industrial and open space-public. They will not be allowed on all other zoning categories including those zoned open space-conservation.
Other changes made at the request of the cellphone industry included:
• The companies will have to notify property owners within a 250-foot radius via letter when a new cell tower site is proposed. The previous radius was 1,000 feet.
• A requirement that each tower have at least two wireless carriers for a new cell tower was stricken. Community Development Director David Rast explained that instead new towers will be required to have space for several carriers to use them simultaneously.
• Language allowing the city or Fayette County to have the ability to locate emergency communications equipment on a new cell tower at no cost was removed. Rast said cell phone companies questioned the legality of the clause though they would be willing to work with the city to allow such equipment.
The ordinance is being revamped in part because several cell phone companies have said they need new towers in several residential areas to improve service as people are relying on their phones for not just voice calls but also email and Internet access.