Cell tower approved for South Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  To settle a 2009 lawsuit blocking a cell tower, the city of Columbus won't oppose a plan to build a 180-foot wireless communications tower at 425 Old Buena Vista Road.  At Tuesday morning's City Council meeting, the resolution was approved.  City Attorney Clifton Faye said the proposed site "turned out that this was the lesser of two evils."

At Tuesday's Columbus Council meeting, TCD Services LLC will seek approval of a resolution to erect a tower that had been denied Jan. 27, 2009. Approval of the special exception use and appropriate permits for the structure is part of the settlement, which includes dismissal of all court action upon issuance of the permits. The 10-member council also will rescind action it took last year to deny the special exception use.

Although wireless towers are permitted as a special exception under the Unified Development Ordinance, the 10-member council denied the structure on grounds it would have a negative, visual impact on the neighborhood and diminish aesthetics, was too close to residences and may impede future redevelopment consistent with the city's Comprehensive Plan. The city cited that other sites were available, using a combination of existing towers. Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes led council's efforts to deny approval of the cell tower. Approving the new request will save the city a costly court battle.

After council denied the request for the cell tower, Central States Tower Holdings filed a second request with the Planning Department for a concealed type structure but was denied. The Planning Department's decision was appealed to the city's Board of Zoning Appeal and it, too, was denied in September 2009. Later that month, Central States filed its third application for a tower permit requesting the construction of a concealed flagpole-type structure. The request was denied by the Planning Department and appealed to the Board of Zoning Appeals. On Nov. 4, 2009, the city-operated board reversed the Planning Department's denial of the application for the tower permit.

A month later, the city filed suit against Central States to block the tower by seeking reversal of its own Board of Zoning Appeals' decision and a judgment that the tower didn't fall within the Unified Development Ordinance's definition of a concealed support structure.

Charles Shephard works near the site of the future tower; he is a realist when it comes to construction.  He said, "I see all these telephone poles and power poles and things, they are not pretty either, but you got to have them."