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Milton residents unite to oppose cell tower


Residents don't want to see it from their homes



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The balloon test conducted by American Towers floats 140 feet in the air near the proposed Birmingham Highway AT&T tower. BETSY RHAME-MINOR. (click for larger version)
March 11, 2013
MILTON, Ga. — Several dozen residents of the area surrounding Milton's Stars Athletic Club attended a proposed cellphone tower balloon test March 2 to see what the structure would look like if approved.

A consultant representing American Towers, the company that would construct the tower for AT&T, conducted the test, which was a large balloon tied to a 140-foot string weighed down close to the proposed site.

From this test, composite photos will be created for a better visual representation of the cell tower project.

"It gives them an idea of how high it would be," explained Michael Gould, the American Tower consultant. "There will be [photo] simulations in addition to the report [submitted to the city of Milton]."

If approved, about 200 families living in the nearby subdivisions of Triple Crown and Richmond Glen would be able to see the tower. Many members of those families attended the balloon test wearing shirts that said, "Stop the cell tower. Don't 'cell' us out."

"There's not any place in our yard you can't see the tower," said Fred McClellan, a resident of Triple Crown subdivision.

McClellan said once the notification letters came out in mid-February, the area residents immediately began organizing to resist the construction of the monopine tower on Birmingham Highway. A Facebook group has since been started, which has over 140 members. Neighbors have encouraged each other to contact Milton city officials and signed petitions to express opposition.

Triple Crown resident Rob Lauterbach and other neighbors have conducted research and claim that the proposed tower is about 3,300 feet, or about a quarter of a mile, from the nearest tower on Batesville Road, and city regulations call for cell towers to be closer to at least 3,500 feet apart. Lauterbach believes the tower would be in a flood plain and too many trees would have to be cut down to accommodate the tower.

Kendall Bowen has allowed Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile to share a cell tower on his property on nearby Batesville Road. He says AT&T once investigated his property as a location for their equipment as well. He says his tower is more discreet than the proposed one about a quarter of a mile away, as it is even or below the height of surrounding trees.

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BETSY RHAME-MINOR. (click for larger version)
"You don't know it's a cell tower," Bowen explained. "It looks like a tall light pole."

This test is part of the process applicants AT&T and American Towers must undergo before the city of Milton accepts or rejects the request. The request will go before zoning on March 13 and before the Milton City Council on April 22. The design review board meeting that was to take place on March 5 will be rescheduled.

This is the first proposed cell tower in Milton since the city passed new regulations at the end of 2009. Prior to the new regulations, T-Mobile applied for three cell towers within the city.

One was approved with changes. The two that were denied are currently in litigation.

Bowen's cell tower predates new city regulations.

Area residents are concerned that the tower would have a negative impact on their neighborhood.

"We looked all over north Atlanta," said Patrick McKay of his family's move to the area. "[Milton] just seemed like a good community. It's a real neighborhood."

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