High Noon In Winchester: Town Gives Shentel 30 Days… or Else

UPDATE City council representatives in Winchester, VA set a 30-day time limit for Shentel to justify its preferred site choice in Jim Barnett Park, the Winchester Star reported. To gain approval of their conditional-use permit (CUP), Shentel must prove the park site is the only solution to spotty cell coverage issues for Sprint customers. Shentel’s proposal to the city is for a 20-year lease, offering an initial $111,000 and $7,000 per year going forward. If Winchester approves the tower, the city can expect to collect $622,800 over the lease term. Only two other carriers may lease a space on the tower, provided each pays the city a one-time fee of $20,000 and Shentel gives the city 30 percent of each sublease per year, about $8,295 annually.

The cell company applied for approval on a site near Daniel Morgan Middle School, which was denied in July 2016, according to Lynn Koerner, project development and site acquisition contractor for Shentel. According to the Star, the city urged Shentel to consider a site near Winchester Country Club, but the company declared the property unsatisfactory.

In a Freedom of Information Act Request, The Winchester Star acquired emails regarding Shentel’s rejection of tower sites and Winchester’s dissatisfaction with their financial proposal. Linda Miles, Winchester Country Club President, wrote that her property had several potential sites for the tower but Shentel expressed no interest in them.

Lawrence Monroe, president of The Center for Municipal Solutions in Wake Forest, said the offer was astronomically lower than it should be, calling it “an early 1990s lease rate, i.e. 25-plus years outdated.”

October 12, 2018

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