In response to a deferral request by the Tennessee Wireless Association and Verizon Wireless, members of the Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission in a formal session Tuesday night tabled the ordinance’s consideration until February in order to give both organizations time to weigh in on the municipal policy’s new look.
Greg Thomas, Cleveland community development director, recommended to planning commissioners in the Municipal Building session that the state organization and Verizon be given a Feb. 10 deadline to submit any questions, suggestions or concerns about the cell tower document draft. In the long run, their input could be beneficial to the code’s wording, Thomas explained.
“They have a lot of practical and professional experience,” Thomas told planners. Their input, if relevant to Cleveland, can be woven into the new ordinance and considered by planning commissioners, he added.
Matt Harris, legal counsel for Verizon Wireless, and Teresa Sharp, representing the Tennessee Wireless Association, attended Tuesday night’s commission gathering and thanked the group for their patience and cooperative attitudes in designing a new ordinance that can be protective of the rights of the communications industry as well as private property owners.
Harris told planners Verizon’s most recent involvement in helping a municipality rewrite cell tower regulations came 1 1/2 years ago in Nashville Metro.
“We ended with a solid, balanced ordinance,” Harris said. “We look forward to a cooperative collaboration with the city of Cleveland.”
The Verizon attorney said his client has worked with a variety of municipal and county governments in Tennessee to arrive at equitable guidelines for all entities.
On a motion by Dr. Michael Laney and second by Maryl Elliott, planning commissioners voted unanimously to table cell tower discussion until the next session in late February. In the meantime, Verizon and the state association will submit relevant input to Thomas, who will include it in the city’s draft document as appropriate.
Planning commissioners will review the final recommendation with the possibility of a vote at their next gathering.
In a related development, planners also tabled discussion until February of a cell tower request by downtown property owner John Eldredge who wants to lease a small parcel of land to Verizon for placement of a 66-foot cell tower. Original plans had called for an 80-foot tower but Verizon has since scaled back its proposal.
Planners have debated Eldredge’s request since last November.
Eldredge’s proposal is expected to be approved because his downtown property site, listed at 1455 Stuart Ave. N.W., near 17th Street, is properly zoned for cell tower use as specified in the wording of the current municipal ordinance. His original request had received opposition from a few area residents who objected to a cell tower being so near the Downtown Historic District and the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway.
Eldredge’s request prompted city planners to revamp the existing ordinance in preparation for what is expected to be a rapid growth in the wireless communications industry which is struggling to keep up with user demand.
The unanimous vote to table Eldredge’s request for another month came on a motion by Laney and second by Stan Lawson.
In other developments Tuesday, planning commissioners:
- Re-elected the governing body’s current slate of officers. These include Tim Henderson, chairman; Dee Burris, vice chairman; and Thomas as recording secretary.
- Approved a request by D&S Custom Homes LLC for final plat approval of Stonebriar Lot 19, a townhome subdivision of about .31 acres on Crosswinds Trail N.E. which will be zoned R2.
- Approved a request by Ralph Henderson for final plat approval of Ralph Henderson Property Lot 4 and Lot 8, a subdivision of 1.92 acres on Foster Lane N.E. which will be zoned R2.
- Approved a request by Jimmy Richmond for preliminary plat approval of Spring Gardens at Dalton Pike, a townhome subdivision of about .21 acres on Spring Meadow Lane S.E. which will be zoned CH.
- Approved a Plan of Services, a city ordinance and a zoning plan for six parcels on Oak Circle S.W. whose owners have asked to be annexed into the city in conjunction with other areas along APD 40 that have already been approved for annexation.
- Heard an announcement by Thomas that a public hearing on an action plan for the Community Development Block Grant program will be held Monday.