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Zoning Commission Grapples With Cell Phone Tower Design, Location

Two towers were discussed at St. Peters Planning and Zoning meeting. One approved and one was sent back to the drawing board.

Two cell phone towers get very different receptions at Wednesday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The Commission heard proposals for two new telecommunications towers in St. Peters.  One tower was approved, while the other was told to come back in September for further discussion. The difference between the two proposed towers boiled down to location.

After meeting , the proposal from St. Charles Tower, Inc. passed inspection from the commission and now just needs approval from the Board of Alderman before the tower can go up. Plans call for the new cell phone tower to be located on the north side of Cloverleaf Drive South, east of Cave Springs Drive in a C-3 commercial district.

St. Charles Tower had to come back for the August meeting because the Commission wanted more design options for the tower. Under existing city code, telecommunications towers in commercial and residential areas must be considered stealth. The ordinance describing stealth towers gave the city just three main options—a flagpole, a flagpole without a flag and a faux tree.

With advances in technology, more and more towers are being proposed. With advances in design, the city could have more options to choose from for the towers. To give the city more options for the increasing demand, city staff proposed a modification to the ordinance to admit more alternatives into the acceptable category.

The Commission recommended to the Board of Aldermen to modify the ordinance and include more stealth options.

Assuming the Board approves the change to the ordinance at the Aug. 25 meeting and allows more stealth designs, the Commission approved the plans for the St. Charles Tower to build a stealth tower. The Aldermen will have to approve the plans as well as the ordinance change and could approve just one, both or neither.

Tower two, a T-Mobile tower, was met with resistance from the Commission and the community.

The proposed location of the 80-foot tower is near a water tower on the west side of Universal Drive, south of Willott Road. The location is an R-1 residential area and smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood.

Representatives from T-Mobile said the tower would be similar to a utility pole. The proposed location, next to the water tower, is just another place for a utility, according to T-Mobile.

The location was chosen, T-Mobile said, because it provided coverage to a residential area where coverage was lacking.

Board representative Jerry Hollingsworth, Ward 2, was the first to jump on the location. During the presentation, T-Mobile referred to the neighborhood as old as a way of saying there were a lot of trees. Hollingsworth said that while it may be old, it’s a place where people live and T-Mobile shouldn’t be disrespectful.

Hollingsworth said he didn’t understand that with all the advancements in technology, why towers were still needed in residential areas.

Members of the community came out to the Justice Center and all in attendance opposed the tower. Some were concerned about aesthetics, others property value. Health issues were raised, as were issues with TV reception. One by one residents stepped up to the microphone to object to the tower.

Aldermen Don Aytes, Ward 4, spoke up for his residents as well. He said that years ago a location on Spencer Road and Williott Road was approved for a tower, but it was never used.

T-Mobile said that location was less than ideal and the preferred the one in their proposal.

Based on the lack of support from the public and several members of the Commission, it looked like T-Mobile's tower was doomed. Commission chairman Keith McNames, however, offered a life raft.

McNames was not satisfied with the reason for turning down the approved location near Spencer and Williott. He said that T-Mobile should strongly consider the no-hassle location as opposed to one that was obviously receiving some criticism. McNames motioned to have T-Mobile come back in September with more research and a better reason while the Spencer/Williott site wouldn’t work.  

T-Mobile agreed and will return with a modified proposal for the Sept. 7 meeting.

More from the Planning and Zoning meeting will posted later today on St. Peters Patch

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