The Ardmore Neighborhood Association (ANA) has launched a “No Cell Towers In Our Backyards” campaign to oppose the construction of cell towers in residential areas of Ardmore. The purpose of this post is to explain what is happening, describe the ANA’s position, and suggest opportunities for neighbors to support this effort.
In 2013, the City Council voted to change the zoning ordinances so as to allow wireless transmission towers (i.e. cell towers) in residential areas. While the zoning law includes some restrictions, such as height limitations and setbacks, the main criteria is that the tower be built on land used for nonresidential purposes, such as churches, fire stations, or schools.
In 2017, Twin City Bible Church (1337 Ebert Street, Winston-Salem, NC) agreed to lease land to Communications Tower Group (CTG), one of the largest privately owned wireless infrastructure providers, with plans to build a 150-foot cell phone tower for T-Mobile.
Before it can build, CTG must receive a special use permit from the city. Unlike most zoning cases, the city uses a “quasi-judicial procedure” to review special use permits for wireless transmission towers. This process, which is set by state and federal law, prohibits residents from petitioning our local elected officials and strictly limits who can testify and present evidence at hearings. In effect, the law makes it very difficult for the average citizen to successfully oppose building these cell towers.
The ANA’s Position on Cell Towers
Building towers in the middle of residential areas of Ardmore detracts from the unique charm of our neighborhood, depresses property values, and hurts future development. The ANA supports better cell phone coverage in Ardmore, however, we do not want to have these towers built in the middle of residential areas unless there are no better options.
In this particular case, the applicant has shown no evidence that the tower could not be located in a commercial area, such as at one of the numerous locations along Silas Creek Parkway that are very close to the proposed location. The ANA is willing to work with any cell tower company to help locate an acceptable location for new wireless infrastructure to support our community.
At the November 6, 2017 city council meeting, the ANA, along with many Ardmore residents who live near the proposed tower, spoke out in opposition to the tower. The city council voted to delay a decision until a December 17 meeting so it could hear more testimony.
The ANA is working with the residents of Ardmore directly affected by this proposed tower to ensure our voices are heard at the next city council meeting.
How You Can Help
Our community is strongest when we stand united. While this proposed tower may not be near your home, the next one might be next door. Therefore we are asking all Ardmore residents to join us in opposing this project. There are three things you can do:
Second, send an email to Twin City Bible Church asking for it to terminate its lease to CTG. You can reach Pastor Carey Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org. While we disagree with the church’s decision, we ask all members of our community to treat each other with respect.
Third, reach out to your elected officials. While they are not allowed to consider emails or letters about this particular case, we can still ask them to change the zoning laws so that future towers cannot be built in residential areas unless no other alternatives are available.