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Proposed Blacks Mill cell tower draws opposition
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Neighbors living in and around Black's Mill Place subdivision have banded together in opposition to a cell phone tower proposed for the area.

Kevin Hallowell said he would be able to see the 195-foot tower from his back deck.

"They flew a balloon, and the balloon was almost eye level with my back deck," he said. "But the folks down at the bottom of the is towering over their backyards. It's going to be awful for some people."

Hallowell said the group is concerned about the long-term effects the tower would place on property values.

"It'll kill that little neighborhood eventually," he said.

Paul Gazzo said the tower would take away the reason he moved to Dawsonville.

"My backyard is my sanctuary," he said. "The tower literally is 213 feet from my property line."

Representatives for Verizon Wireless want to place the tower on property located at 1083 Black's Mill Rd. The property, owned by Joan Caine, is currently zoned residential agriculture.

In addition to seeking a conditional use permit for the tower, attorneys for Verizon have also asked for a variance that would allow a reduction in the required distance to the nearest tower.

The closest tower is about two miles (10,475 feet) from the site, while the county's ordinance requires a distance of 15,840 feet, or three miles, between towers.

Sandra Kritikos, whose property abuts the proposed site, was among a dozen homeowners that spoke in opposition to the communication tower during the March 17 meeting of the Dawson County Planning Commission.

"On the Verizon website, there are 20 towers within four miles of the property right now," she said. "I'd hate to see them set precedence, because if they do that and put a cell tower within two miles of this one, will that mean they can do it again in two miles?"

The planning commission denied the variance request.

The board, an appointed five-member panel that makes recommendations on zoning measures to county commissioners, also voted to recommend denial of the conditional use permit.

The matter will go before the county's board of commissioners on April 14.

Verizon spokeswoman Sheryl Sellaway said the company's goal "is to provide the best, most reliable wireless service possible--which is what our growing customer base has come to expect from Verizon. As such, we are evaluating our options and we'll determine our next steps soon."

Hallowell said the group has launched a campaign against the proposed tower that includes meeting with nearby property owners, generating a petition, educating the public on the matter and passing out flyers to make sure neighbors know what could "be in their backyard."

Attempts to reach Caine were unsuccessful.