Broadcaster Wants to Stretch Zoning For Tower From 40 to 525 Feet

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An 80-acre plot outside the town of Milton, DE could soon host a 525-foot broadcast tower to support several local television stations. Loblolly LLC already owns the land, and is the property management arm of Draper Media, which owns WBOC-TV, and sister stations WRDE-TV and WBOC-LD. The parcel of land had previously been earmarked for a new wastewater treatment plant, reports the Cape Gazette, but is being reconsidered as a desirable location for a new broadcast tower. 

Loblolly president, Johnny Hopkins, told the Milton Town Council that more power was needed to increase their signal over a larger area. The 525-foot tower that he proposed is considerably taller than the 40-foot one allowed under the current zoning. Town Solicitor, Seth Thompson, explained that the parcel is presently zoned R-3, which is primarily residential, with additional restrictions. He cautioned that even a smaller 40-foot tower would require a special permitted accessory use authorization.  

“We want to see if this is a worthwhile project that we can move beyond this point,” Hopkins said. He told the council that Draper Media would like to establish a greater presence in Milton and noted that its current facilities were limited. “It’s tight. It looks big on television, but it’s small. We could use a larger studio, and at some point we may consider that,” he added, referring to possible plans to build a larger television station in downtown Milton.  

“I think it’s a benefit for the town,” said Chairman Richard Trask. “It will be out of the close eyesight of most of the community.” The town council agreed and gave its permission for Loblolly to move ahead with the tower project. 

Thompson reminded the council that the condition use provision means that the final decision is still pending. Loblolly will need to submit a site-plan and conditional-use application for review before any construction can begin. The Milton Town Council will then consider the planning and zoning requirements before casting its final vote. 

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