“Park” the Tower Here: Commissioners Approve Shentel Project


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A divided Planning Commission voted 4-3 in favor of a conditional-use permit (CUP), allowing Shentel to build a 100-foot cell tower on leased space in Jim Barnett Park, reported The Winchester Star. City Planner Timothy Youmans said the project will address “a clear need” for adequate wireless coverage in and around the park.

Shentel plans to lease the proposed tower location from the city, paying $111,000 to secure a 20-year lease for the site, plus an annual rent of $7,000 per year. Up to two carriers can potentially co-locate on the tower for a one-time fee of $20,000. Additionally, Shentel will give Winchester 30 percent of each carrier’s $27,650 annual sublease, which equals $8,295 per year.  

According to Lynn Koerner, site acquisition and project development contractor for Shentel, the tower will “balance the load” being placed on the company’s other towers in the Winchester area.  

However, Commission Vice Chairwoman Kelly Wolfe and Commissioner Katt Eaton challenged Koerner with concerns over adding barbed wire atop the security fence, posing a safety hazard to children, and worry that the tower will adversely impact the views of nearby residents. Additionally, residents added their complaints, accusing the city of allowing a private business to use public park space for a profit-making venture, reported the Star.  

Commissioner Rick Fieo said the CUP should only be judged on the conditions outlined in the city’s Zoning Ordinance; members agreed those conditions had been met but added a few additional stipulations as well.

The Star reported that the Planning Commission is recommending that City Council, which will make the final decision on the matter, approve the CUP.

August 24, 2018