COUNTY OF FAUQUIER
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
PLANNING COMMISSION STAFF REPORT
JUNE 27, 2002
EXCEPTION #SE 02-L-30 and
PLAN SUBSTANTIAL ACCORD REVIEW
James r. and betty l. mills and community wireless structures
Elizabeth A. Cook
Wireless Structures, a developer of infrastructure on which wireless
service providers lease space, is proposing to construct a 150-foot
lattice structure with accompanying antenna and equipment on this ±47.41-acre
parcel. There is an existing
house, stables, and the Fairways Driving Range, a golf practice facility,
on this parcel at 11435 Lucky Hill Road (Route 655) near Remington.
The property is located between the Remington and Bealeton Service
applicant indicates that the requested height is designed to meet the
expanding need for wireless coverage along Route 15/29 and along Route 28
in the southern portion of the County.
The applicant's justification identifies a 7-mile gap between the
NCT Opal monopole, located at the intersection of Routes 17 and 29 and the
SBA lattice structure located near Route 29 in Culpeper County.
application indicates interest on the part of Sprint PCS and VoiceStream
Wireless to locate on this structure should it be approved, but the
application does not indicate a binding commitment from either company to
AND AGENCY REVIEW
County’s telecommunications consultant, Atlantic Technology Consultants,
Inc. (ATC), has reviewed this application for conformance with applicable
Ordinance provisions, and its report follows:
Community Wireless Structures proposes
to construct a 150-foot lattice tower to support antennas used by wireless
service providers. The
objective for the facility is to provide coverage in the Route 15/29
corridor and the surrounding area. The
proposed structure is sited on a parcel located at 11435 Lucky Hill Road
(Route 655) near Remington. The
application indicates interest on the part of Sprint PCS (Sprint) and
VoiceStream Wireless to locate on this structure should it be approved,
but the application does not indicate a binding commitment from either
company to this effect.
SITING AND DESIGN:
The proposed structure is sited on a
47-acre parcel zoned RA. The
property is owned by Trust One, James R. & Betty L. Mills, Trustees.
Operation of a golf driving range appears to be the primary use of
the property. The proposed
facilities are situated approximately 1,200 feet from the access point to
the parcel on Lucky Hill Road.
The structure is sited within a stand
of trees of a minimum 100-foot radius depth.
Photo simulations reveal that the upper section of the structure
will be highly visible from several prominent locations around the site.
A landscape plan is not included in the proposal nor is it
Sprint’s antennas are proposed at a
height of 140 feet. All
communications equipment including antenna support structure and base
station equipment will be located within the board-on-board fenced
compound. The application
indicates that the structure will be designed to support six (6) carriers.
However, the site plan only reflects space being allocated to
accommodate five (5) equipment shelters within the 50 ft. x 100 ft. fenced
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), delineated in Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1, Subpart I, sections 1.1301-1.1319 requires federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations into their decision-making process. As a licensing agency, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) requires all licensees to consider the potential environmental effects from its construction of antenna support structures and disclose those effects in an Environmental Assessment (EA) that must be filed with the FCC for review. In absence of a NEPA report, the potential impact on environmental resources as a result of this proposal is not known.
In addition to environmental considerations, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) requires that State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO) be given a reasonable opportunity to comment on all federal undertakings with the potential to affect historic properties. Prior to construction, the licensee is required to submit to the SHPO a detail description of the project, a listing of historic resources and a discussion of any measures being undertaken to mitigate impacts (if any) on historic resources. Upon receipt, the SHPO has thirty (30) days to review and respond. All agencies with authority to permit construction are required to consider the SHPO response in its decision-making process. In the absence of SHPO review, the potential impact on historic resources as a result of this proposal is not known.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that an air hazard determination be performed for all new structures, unless excluded under FAA rules and regulations. This study examines the potential impact the proposed structure may have on safe air navigation. An official air hazard study has been completed with a finding of “No Hazard to Air Navigation.”
A survey of the area identified several co-locatable structures within 1.2 miles of the proposed site. A series of power transmission towers, ranging in height between 120 ft. – 140 ft., traverse the area in and around Town of Remington (See Exhibit 1).
Future use of this structure is purely speculative, thus it is difficult to fully evaluate its overall effectiveness in servicing the needs of all carriers that may seek to provide service in the area. (Sprint was the only service provider for which propagation maps were provided.) With respect to Sprint, the reported objective for this site is to provide service in the Routes 15/29 and 28 corridors and surrounding area.
Sprint currently operates a network of sites surrounding the proposed site. The site ID’s, above ground level (AGL) of Sprint’s antennas and the distance to the proposed site is identified in the table below. The location of each site is shown in Exhibit 2.
Sprint’s existing coverage was analyzed through propagation modeling, spectrum analysis and practical testing.
Propagation modeling was used to model Sprint’s existing network coverage produced from the sites identified in the table above. Areas shaded in green and yellow (minimum – 89 dBm) represent acceptable coverage with the areas in green representing the strongest communication back to the tower. Areas shaded in gray represent “spotty” or unreliable coverage. Propagation mapping reveals reliable coverage in the area surrounding the proposed structure (see Exhibit 3).
A spectrum analyzer is a sophisticated instrument used to obtain highly accurate field strength measurements of particular frequencies. A field strength reading of – 84.91 dBm was recorded approximately 150 feet from the base of the proposed structure, which is well within the range of reliability (See Exhibit 4). (As previously noted, a signal measuring – 89 dBm or greater is reliable.)
As a final test, an attempt was made to place a wireless call using Sprint service from the same location from which the signal strength reading was taken. The handset on the wireless phone indicated full signal strength. A call was successfully placed and maintained from this location.
In each of the analyses described above, Sprint’s service was found to be operating well within acceptable ranges.
structure is purely speculative with regard to future use, fails to
fulfill a legitimate need based upon Sprint’s existing service and
exceeds the County’s maximum height restriction of 120 feet.
Should other service providers seek to provide service in the
vicinity of the proposed structure, the existing power transmission towers
near the Town of Remington provide excellent co-location alternatives, in
addition to the 60–foot water storage tank in the Town.
Given the findings described above and the evidence presented in
the application, this structure is not warranted.
Prior to any
approval, we recommend that the following contingencies be imposed:
1. As a FCC licensee, the applicant (or structure owner) is required to perform a NEPA study. In the absence of such a study, the impact on environmental resources is not known. The potential impact on environmental resources should be considered in any decision concerning approval.
2. As a FCC licensee, the applicant is required to perform a Section 106 review. In the absence of such a review, the impact on environmental resources is not known. The potential impact on historic resources should be considered in any decision concerning approval.
3. A non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation (NIER) analysis should be performed on the cumulative effect of all antennas to be located on the structure to ensure a safe environment for workers and the general public who may be exposed.
It is staff’s evaluation, based on ATC's report and
the referral comments, that the proposed special exception application for
a lattice structure of 120 feet in height has the following weaknesses:
The proposed tower is not clearly addressing a need,
as noted by the ATC report.
The proposed tower would be located adjacent to
existing residential development.
The site is not remote from residential areas.
The site is planned for rural uses and lies between
the Bealeton and Remington Service Districts.
Stealth design techniques were not proposed.
It is not clearly demonstrated that co-location is
Co-location at an existing public facility, the
Remington water tower was not fully considered to address Sprint's or
other potential carriers coverage needs.
It appears other opportunities exist for providers to
consider, including a tower height of 80 feet, which would not require a
special exception; co-location on the Remington water tower, or
co-location on existing power transmission towers near Remington. Until it has been demonstrated that these possible
alternatives do not address the needs of potential carriers, this
application is premature. In
addition, with the proposed height of 120 feet, the application is not in
conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.
Unless the applicant can adequately address the weaknesses noted
above, staff recommends that the Planning Commission forward this request
to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation of denial.
and appropriate referral agencies have reviewed this request for
conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, and other
relevant policies and regulations. Staff
findings, comments and recommendations, as well as referral agency
Chapter 9 of the Comprehensive Plan includes the
County’s Commercial Wireless Technology Facilities Plan.
Under Section 15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia, this application
is required to be determined in substantial accord with the Comprehensive
Plan. The general intent of
the Comprehensive Plan with regard to telecommunication towers is to seek
a balance between providing wireless communication service to County
residents and businesses while remaining sensitive to the location and
appearance of these facilities. These
goals can be achieved through the encouragement of tower heights less than
80 feet, co-location on existing towers and structures, careful design and
siting, among others. This
application requests a new tower at a height greater than 80 feet.
In such instances, the Comprehensive Plan notes that:
most preferred settings are in areas of employment concentration or mature
tree stands, where towers would not be highly visible and within trees
with only antenna arrays above the tree tops.
in areas zoned or planned for residential uses are discouraged.
towers adjacent to or in close proximity to existing/planned residential
uses are discouraged.
towers should be considered only when co-location or replacement is not
owned land should be considered.
towers should be encouraged at locations within wooded areas or remote
sites away from residential structures to reduce visual impacts.
should be located on a down slope.
towers should not block the County’s microwave paths or interfere with
public safety radio systems.
tower should be closer than 1,000 feet from a Virginia Scenic Byway unless
an acceptable stealth design is utilized.
The Planning Commission should consider these factors
in determining if this application is in conformance with the
Comprehensive Plan as a public utility.
Review Board would prefer telecommunication installations be attached to
existing structures, such as Church Steeples, Water Tanks, Silos and Power
Transmission Towers. However
the wooded site proposed by Community Wireless has merit and the Board
would give a favorable recommendation for a tower designed for mitigated
visual impact, such as light gray lattice, not to exceed 80 feet in