One Tower Okayed on Zoning Commissioner’s Property, Second Draws Fire

A cell tower proposed on the property of a township zoning commissioner in North Huntingdon was allowed to move forward earlier this week, after the commissioners voted in favor of allowing the project, reports Trib Live. The fate of a second cell tower in the city remains less clear.

The 195-foot cell tower for Verizon aims to improve spotty cell coverage in the area and would be located on the property of zoning commissioner Thomas Kerber. On Monday, the commission unanimously approved the site plan for the tower, with Kerber abstaining from the vote.

Another cell tower located in nearby Hempfield—a 199-foot tower also for Verizon—has been proposed on land owned by township Supervisor John Silvis. Unlike the tower located on Kerber’s property—which was approved with no opposition—the fate of this tower remains unclear due to public pushback.  

Last month, some 50 people turned out to a zoning hearing over the proposed tower. The zoning board decided to hold off on a decision and issued an independent review to determine the necessity of the cell tower to address coverage gaps in the area.

Critics of the project cite a rule that the city requires all cell towers to be located more than two miles from existing tower structures. In 2014, the Hempfield zoning board rejected a similar request that would have required an exception to the two-mile rule.

Verizon contends the location is best to address inadequate coverage in the area.

“Cell phone towers are a little like landfills,” North Huntingdon’s planning director Andrew Blenko said. “Nobody wants them, but everybody needs them.”

March 10, 2017      

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