Skyway Gets FCC Win in KY Tower Siting Battle

In a win for a towerco, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau upheld the agency’s previous decision that a proposed tower in Scott County, KY, will have no effect on historic property. The bureau also dismissed a Petition for Reconsideration and said it will not re-open the Section 106 process.   

Skyway Towers originally filed an application in March 2015 to build a 310-foot tower near 1621 Stamping Ground Road. In December 2016, the Kentucky Heritage Council (SHPO) determined the structure would have no bearing on historic property. It later followed up with a note that a “concerned citizen” filed a protest, saying the proposed tower could potentially negatively impact the Choctaw Academy, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and located within the 0.75 mile presumptive Area of Potential Effect (APE) for the proposed 310-foot tower.

Skyway dropped the height to 199-feet so the tower would have a reduced 0.5 APE and not affect the academy. But after a balloon test, the Kentucky SHPO found the tower would still be visible from the academy and recommended it be included in the tower’s APE.   

In March 2017, the FCC came to the opposite conclusion. It said the tower wouldn’t affect the academy or any historic property, and its siting did not warrant increased APE for visual effects.

The FCC approved the siting in April 2017. The owner of the school, William Richardson, appealed, noting that Skywave’s application didn’t include a nearby burial site nor a 70-foot bluff on which the tower would be sited.  

In its decision on Tuesday, the FCC said the bluff argument had already been rejected and the appeal did not raise any new arguments. The bureau agreed with Skywave consultants who said the balloon test showed it would be hard to see the tower from the school without using binoculars. The bureau also said Skywave worked in good faith with the state by lowering the tower height. Comments? Email us.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers, Washington Bureau Chief

October 31, 2018

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