Tower Siting Eases Near Historic Areas Due to Recent Amendment

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There is a historic wooded area between Chestertown and Millington, MD, that is close to White House Farm, a property on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also along the Chesapeake County National Scenic Byway. However, a 199-foot-tall proposed tower on Morgnec Road along that route was approved unanimously by the Kent County History Preservation Commission this week, according to the Kent County News.

The tower’s site is fewer than 10,000 square feet and will sit at 28690 River Rd. in a wooded area owned by Casey and Megan Owings. Community planner Katrina Tucker told the Kent County News that the site “doesn’t trigger the requirements of the state’s reforestation law,” and with the site being so small, only a few trees will come down. She did, however, say that the Owings’ stormwater management plan will need to be revised.

There was a request for comments at the meeting, which garnered no opposition. Commissioner Jeremy Rothwell told Kent County News that “he considered cell towers ‘a necessary evil.’” On the way to the meeting, he drove by the tower’s proposed site and said that reception was poor. He said at the meeting that “the applicant has made a reasonable effort to shield it from public view.” 

The tower also has been approved by the Agricultural Advisory Board and now will be addressed at the Kent County Planning Commission’s November meeting. According to Kent County News, the planners will make their recommendation to the Board of Appeals at that meeting, who then will decide on a special exception for the project since it is in a historic area.

For the first time ever, the commission is planning stewardship visits to the six historic sites in the county, Kent County News reported. This news comes on the heels of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s (ACHP) August amendment regarding the 2001 Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas among the Federal Communications Commission, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) and the ACHP. According to the ACHP’s site, the purpose of the amendment is to “streamline 5G infrastructure deployment, and to continue to reduce the need for new tower construction that could potentially affect historic properties.”

In May, the FCC requested public comments regarding the amendment, and the organization received more than 100. Comments submitted by SHPOs in particular “recommended substantive revisions to the amendment to ensure historic properties would not be inadvertently adversely affected by provisions in the amendment.” Revisions included defining utility structures more exactly, clarifying further replacement equipment reviews, and further limits on the “potential exclusion for public lighting structures, including eliminating the use of this exclusion where lighting structures are considered a ‘compatible element’ within a historic district.”

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