Levy Court green-lights two new Verizon towers in Cheswold and Hartly

 

DOVER — Two new Verizon Wireless telecommunications towers got the go-ahead from Kent County Levy Court at its Tuesday night meeting. Unlike traditional “monopole” style free-standing towers, these are designed to be disguised at light poles.

The applicant, Cellco Partnership, sought two existing commercial sites with nearly identical zoning requests. The first location is on the southwest corner of the Forrest Avenue and Pearsons Corner Road intersection in Hartly, near a Royal Farms gas station. The second site is on the northeast corner of the U.S. 13 and Fast Landing Road intersection in Cheswold, near another Royal Farms.

In an earlier planning services meeting, both proposals were recommended for conditional approval. Kent County Planning director Sarah Keifer noted that this style of tower will be new to the county.

“These towers are effectively masked, they are a use that the county hasn’t seen before,” she said. “There have been some suggestions to updating our existing cell tower regulations to address new technologies like this one — we’re in the middle of that now.”

During a brief presentation, the applicant’s attorney Jonathan Jordan noted that the tower will resemble a light pole in all other ways except for attached antennae.

“It’s basically a 22-foot-tall tower that just replaces the existing light pole with another on that has antennas on it,” he said. “The reason for these locations is that there’s a lot of traffic in the Royal Farms and a lot of people using their phones there. This kind of accounts for that and it makes a difference to the overall network.”

Mr. Jordan was accompanied by a civil engineer, radio frequency engineer and a site acquisition representative to answer any questions the public or commissioners may have had, but these extra precautions were unnecessary. There was no public opposition to either proposal.

Both proposals met with unanimous approval from the seven Levy Court commissioners.

“Back in the ’90s we weren’t thrilled with these towers popping up, but there wasn’t widespread use of cellphones yet,” said at-large commissioner Terry Pepper. “Times have changed and many of our first responders are now reliant on these cell towers, so this is a good idea.”

County administrator Michael Petit de Mange noted that as Kent County sees more cell tower saturation and competing service providers co-occupying towers there are less and less projects seeking approval.

“Of course, there are some areas that still lack reliable service, but we’re starting to see fewer proposals,” he said.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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