Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

George C. and Helen F. Elmore (Owners)
New Cingular Wireless PCS LLC, d/b/a AT&T Mobility (Applicant) 

July 9, 2009

Staff Lead:


Bonnie Bogert, Planner II

Community Development


Magisterial District:                                                                                                                 PIN:

Service District:


A Resolution to Approve SPEX09-CT-007: A Category 20 Special Exception to Allow for the Construction of a Personal Wireless Service Facility to Include a Monopole Which is Greater Than Eighty (80) Feet in Height

Topic Description:

The applicant is seeking Special Exception approval to construct a personal wireless service facility pursuant to Section 11 of the Zoning Ordinance. The subject parcel is approximately 55.5 acres in size. This facility would consist of a 110’ tall monopole that has a 7’ lightning rod on top of it for a total of 117’ in height, six (6) panel antennas located at various points on the monopole, and seven (7) equipment cabinets located at the base of the monopole. A copy of the Special Exception Plat is included as Attachment 1.

The Applicant contends in the Statement of Justification (Attachment 2) that this proposed site was selected because it is “strategically located in relation to their other existing or planned radio links and will provide the widest and most efficient coverage of the arterial roadways in the area while minimizing its visual impact on major thoroughfares.” Collocation opportunities on existing structures were researched while this site was being considered, but no existing structure provided a collocation opportunity that would provide the amount of signal coverage that this new structure would provide. The applicant also looked for alternate sites within the County to construct the monopole and did not find any that provided the same amount of signal coverage and screening that this location would provide.

Project History:

A Special Exception to approve the construction of a 110’ foot monopole on this site was approved in April 2003. Approval of a Major Site Plan was also required in conjunction with this approval.  The Major Site Plan was never finalized.  Thus, the Special Exception expired.


Location,  Zoning and Current Land Use:

The property is located on Elmores Lane, a private road which connects to Dumfries Road (Route 605), north of Warrenton.  The parcel is zoned Rural Agriculture (RA); surrounding properties are also zoned RA.   

Special Exception Analysis:

Category 20: Section 11-102.2 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the following standards for this Special Exception: 

2.         Personal Wireless Facilities 

These facilities are allowed in all zoning district categories by-right, subject to meeting certain performance criteria related to location, siting, and design. This application does not meet the siting standard because the facility is not proposed to be located on an existing building, telecommunication structure, or within a silo. The application does not meet the design standard in that the facility is proposed to be higher than eighty (80) feet in height. Because these performance criteria are not met, this application requires approval of a Special Exception.

11-102.3.a.   Zoning Application Category

New personal wireless facilities which cannot achieve the standards in Section 11-102.2 shall require special exception approval.  An application for a Special Exception must meet one of the four criteria listed in Zoning Ordinance Section 11-102.3.a. The application meets the following criteria:

·               Special Circumstances:  A telecommunication tower facility up to 120 feet in height is permissible upon technical demonstration that environmental and topographical constraints, as well as available technology used, cannot provide acceptable service at a lower height.  Such a facility needs to be designed to accommodate collocation; or with the exception of emergency communication tower facilities, a personal wireless or telecommunication facility proposed in excess of 120 feet in height is an application of last resort.  The applicant/carrier must technically justify that:  (a) all existing structures, site and height alternatives have been exhausted; and (b) the facility proposed is at the minimum height, based on the best available technology, to adjust to the identified environmental and topographical constraints, for the established service carrier, and without the site at the requested height, service cannot be provided.

The proposed tower is 11 feet above the average tree top height; however, the applicant contends that this is the minimum height needed to provide the level of service necessary to correct lacking coverage areas, and has provided maps which indicate the level of signal coverage at 97 feet of height and 107 feet of height. The attached RF Justification indicates that 107’ (measured from the centerline of the antenna: actual height of the monopole is 110’) is the minimum height suitable for a tower at this location.


11-102.3.b General Performance Criteria:

All personal wireless or telecommunication facilities, whether permitted by right or permissible with the approval of a special exception or special permit application, shall be subject to the standards set forth in this section.  Although the applicant has complied with a portion of this section, the following standards have not been completely addressed:

·                           New telecommunication facilities greater than 80 feet in height shall be designed to

         accommodate co-location, complete with the engineering report attesting to that capacity,   

         unless the Applicant is able to certify:

(a)    Doing so would create an unnecessary visual impact on the surrounding area; or

(b)   No additional need is anticipated for any other potential user in the vicinity; or

(c)    There is some valid economic, technological or physical justification as to why collocation is not possible. 

               The applicant shall identify the conditions under which future collocation by other

               service providers is permitted.

The applicant has agreed to a condition which states that at the time of issuance of a 

Zoning/Building permit, a qualified engineer shall certify that the tower shall be constructed to

accommodate additional carriers, and that no permit shall be issued without such certification.

·         The height of new towers shall be limited based on technological need, type of

      facility location, and/or required permit approval.

Based on a statement provided by the applicant, the height of this proposed tower is the

minimum needed to achieve maximum signal coverage.

11-102.3.c.      Additional Submission Requirements: 

In addition to Section 5-011.II, the following additional information is required to be submitted by applicants for towers or monopoles which require special exception or special permit approval:                                                              

·         Photo imagery or other visual simulation of the proposed telecommunication tower or         monopole must be shown with the existing conditions of the site. This simulation shall be provided from a minimum of three (3) perspectives. The applicant shall address how the facility can be designed to mitigate the visual impact on area residents, facilities, and roads.

·         More specifically, a sight line presentation must be presented.  A sight line shall be    drawn from the three closest residential units included in the vicinity plan to the highest visible point on the personal wireless facility.  If there are no residential units in the mandatory setback distance, reference 11-102.2.a (3), the public rights-of-way will be used.

·         Photographs:  (1) 4 x 6 inch photograph from three perspectives demonstrating existing  conditions, one sight line from each residential unit;  (2)  photosimulation from the same three perspectives with the proposed personal wireless facility included.  If there are no residential units in the project area, then views shall be from the public rights-of-way.

   Photos and sight line drawings have been provided by the applicant. See Attachment 3.

Staff and Review Agency Comments:

Staff and Review Agency Comments are included in Attachment 5.

Planning Commission Action:  

On May 28, 2009, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to  recommend approval of this Special Exception with the conditions included in the Resolution.

Ayes: Mr. Alm, Mr. Stone, Mr. Meadows, Ms. Garreau

Nay: Ms. McCarty


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached resolution.

Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Customers of AT&T Wireless



1.         Special Exception Plat

2.         Statement of Justification

3.         Photo Simulations

4.         RF Justification with Signal Coverage Maps

5.         Staff and Review Agency Comments


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