BENTONVILLE — Benton County’s Planning Board on Wednesday night approved a cell phone tower in the northeast corner of the county.
The planners approved the request by a 7-0 vote after a public hearing concerning Verizon Wireless’ request for the tower between Gateway and Busch. Verizon requested the tower to improve coverage and network reliability to benefit residents, businesses and commuters, according the letter David McGehee, the company’s agent, submitted to the Planning Board.
The letter states 76% or more of E-911 calls come from wireless devices and network reliability has become vital to public safety.
Verizon is proposing a 250-foot tall self support style lattice tower to meet its coverage objectives. The site is proposed off of an existing private drive on the north side of U.S. 62 on a 11.77 acre tract in a semi-rural area without county zoning designation, according to the letter.
Jennifer Waymack, an attorney for Verizon, said the project started about a year ago. The tower is in the northwest corner of the property and complies with all of county’s codes, she said. There is an issue with broadband service in the state and the new tower will help with the technology, she said.
Taylor Reamer, county planning director, told planners the project complies with all county requirements for setbacks. The planning office received 10 responses concerning the tower from nearby property owners, he said.
Trevor Pringle, an engineer for Verizon, also submitted a letter stating the tower will improve coverage in residential areas along U.S. 62.
Steve Hardin, an attorney, said he represents some of the adjoining property owners. Hardin said his clients chose to live in their homes in a pristine area, and now they are concerned about 250-foot tower being put up near their homes.
“This is a travesty,” he said. “My clients do not want the tower there.”
Hardin said the area is a densely populated area, but the tower could serve a much broader people if it was put in Carroll County.
The tower will be a visible nuisance since people will be able to see it from many areas, he said.
Pamela Williams Brush, who lives on property adjacent to the proposed tower, said her family moved to a completely wooded area in 2002. She said they wanted the nature, and now a tower will hover over their property. She was worried about the lights and noise from the tower.
Barbara King, who also lives near proposed site, described the area as beautiful. She is now afraid animals will flee the area because of the tower.
“Who wants to look at an ugly tall cell tower,?” she asked.
Her husband, Darrell King, also objected to the tower. “Anywhere they put that blasted thing I will be able to walk out on my porch and it will be there,” he said. “I’m asking you to deny this thing. The radiation will be right at my house.”
Waymack said the tower will increase coverage for a larger region, but also will make other towers stronger. “It is a necessary tower,” she said. “It is needed.”
Waymack said the tower is going to be visible from some areas, but Verizon did take steps to the reduce the impact on other property owners.
Hardin was disappointed in the boards decision. He said he had to meet with his clients to discuss the next steps to take.
Tracy M. Neal can be reached by email at [email protected] or Twitter @NWATracy.