Historical “Bicentennial” Zoning Law Causes Present Day Tower Drama

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Stonecrest (TN) residents are raising funds to retain legal counsel to fight for the removal of a recently installed T-Mobile cell phone tower, reported The Champion.

Resident Phillip Kelly filed a zoning code violation February 18 with Stonecrest Code Enforcement department to have the tower removed. “The 199-foot-tall cell phone tower constructed at this address is in a rural residential area,” Kelly said in an email to the code enforcement department. 

“This property is not zoned for this commercial use.”

Kelly questions the “conditionally zoned commercial” status due to the history behind it. “The property was conditionally zoned as commercial for a daycare center,” Kelly said.

According to a document from DeKalb County, a daycare submitted an application in 1976 to conditionally rezone the property from R-100 (residential) to C-2 (commercial) for a summer day camp. The document states the daycare center would use the property for a camp only during summer months.

After Stonecrest incorporated, it adopted DeKalb County’s zoning laws. Residents argue the tower was illegally approved because the property was conditionally zoned as commercial for the summer months and that technically, the property is still zoned residential outside the summer months, reported The Champion.

According to Stonecrest spokesman Adrion Bell, because the property is zoned commercial, the tower was approved by right-of-use and the city can legally approve a permit for a commercial property without a public hearing. “It meets FCC safety requirements,” Bell said. “It meets all of the requirements to be legal.”

March 4, 2019

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