Towers, setbacks to be discussed

Published 11:31 am Monday, December 31, 2018

The Cumberland County Planning Commission is set to resume discussions and hold public hearings concerning the county’s policy on communications towers and antennas, and the county’s policies on setbacks and road frontages.

The meeting is set to take place Monday, Jan. 7, 6:30 at the Cumberland County Community Center, room C-8.

Commission members, during their November meeting, tabled the decision on potentially amending the Cumberland County’s zoning policies to comply with the Code of Virginia’s amendments on communications towers and antennas.

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The commission evaluated recent amendments made to the Code of Virginia concerning zoning for wireless communications infrastructures.

Planning and Zoning Administrator J.P. Duncan also contended during the November meeting that some of the existing county policies may not be conducive or necessary for cellular towers in the present day, including that the county require a bond or letter of credit from the applicant for demolition or site restoration costs.

J.P. Duncan

“These cell towers, when they first started out, it was more of a luxury,” Duncan said. “Now it’s a necessity. So I don’t see them going anywhere. I don’t see them causing grave harm. So, to me it’s just not necessary.”

Robert McAvoy of Precision Cell, LLC, attended the November meeting as part of a public hearing the county had on a proposed cellular tower on Salem Church Road.

McAvoy said he gave a cursory review of Cumberland’s policies and consulted with Duncan about them, suggested having the county attorney review the state and county policies and seek to make the county policies consistent with Virginia’s.

County Attorney and Administrator Vivian Seay Giles and members of the commission said they could review the policies in more detail, and McAvoy said he could be a resource.

“I don’t think any one of us … would be against getting rid of some regulations, but how about we table this until we have enough time for Ms. Giles to go through it and find any more contradictions and just get rid of them,” Commission Chair William Burger said.

Members of the commission, in a past meeting, also voted to table proposed reductions in the county’s setback allowances, reducing the distance between buildings or residential properties and roads.

Setbacks between properties and designated primary highways for Agricultural-2 are proposed to be reduced from 130 to 100 feet, with all other public roads proposed to be reduced to 75 feet. The minimum side requirements would remain at 25 feet for principal structure and 5 feet for accessory structures.

For Residential-1 properties, setbacks between properties and designated primary highways are similarly proposed to be reduced from 130 to 100 feet, with all other roads remaining the same at 75 feet.

Duncan said the proposed setback allowances are set to fall more in line with the measurements of setback allowances in surrounding counties.