The Elbert County Board of County Commissioners, at the Oct. 14 meeting, voted unanimously to approve a special use by review that will allow a 304-foot telecommunications tower to be built on land …
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The Elbert County Board of County Commissioners, at the Oct. 14 meeting, voted unanimously to approve a special use by review that will allow a 304-foot telecommunications tower to be built on land at the Peaceful Valley Scout Camp, located at 22799 N. Elbert Road. The lattice tower will include a microwave dish that will support FirstNet, a nationwide wireless network for first responders.
“FirstNet is a nationwide communications platform dedicated to first responders,” said Jaclyn Levine with Nexius, the company that will be building the tower. “It was mandated by Congress to strengthen and modernize the public communications. Although it will be used to help first responders, it will also improve cell phone service for some users in Elbert County.”
Levine said Nexius approached the Boy Scout ranch about placing a tower on their land nearly two years go, and the original plans submitted to the county were for a 195-foot self-supporting tower. Subsequent plans were submitted for a 304-foot tower, after recognizing difficulties in securing the smaller tower.
According to Levine, the FirstNet platform would allow first responders within the county and surrounding areas to communicate effectively on one dedicated network, with more reliable service.
“The FirstNet platform can keep history, for example, if there's a history of calls to a certain property, first responders will know that,” said Levine. “And at the Scout ranch there isn't really any good service, and there's an opportunity for accidents to happen. It's really the ideal location for the first of its kind tower in the Elbert County area.”
Prior to approving the SUR, commissioners asked several questions of Levine during the BOCC meeting, including whether or not FAA regulations had been met regarding the light that is mandated on the top of the tower, and whether or not there would additional towers erected in Elbert County in the future.
Levine assured commissioners that they were in compliance with FAA regulations and not certain if other towers would be placed in the county.
While first responders may benefit from having the tower at the Scout ranch, some community members asked commissioners to deny the SUR, amid concerns about aircraft and the adverse visual impact.
“I urge the commissioners to seriously consider the adverse visual impact of the tower upon residents of the area and the hundreds of travelers who drive up and down Elbert Road on a daily basis,” wrote resident Jay Enyart, in a letter submitted to the BOCC. “If the tower is built, the message Elbert County will be sending to its residents and surrounding communities is that preservation of the beauty and character of our county is not a high priority or maybe not a priority at all.”
The tower is a public private partnership between FirstNet and AT&T, and would be co-locatable with other networks, which means other carriers could use the tower if they choose to do so. Estimated completion date of the tower is by the end of 2021.
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