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Planning Commission denies variance for proposed cell tower
Board suggests denial of tower’s special use permit
Planning Nov. 16

After neighbors raised concerns about visual blight with a planned cell tower near the Lumpkin County line, members of the Dawson County Planning Commission denied a variance for the structure on Nov. 16.

During the meeting, they also recommended the Board of Commissioners deny a special use permit for the structure at that board’s Dec. 16 voting session. 

The tower’s proposed location is on property off of Ga. 52 near its intersection with Wesley Chapel Road. The variance would have allowed for the tower’s precise spot to be slightly less than the required three-mile distance from an existing tower. 

Currently, there is another tower supporting Verizon five miles to the northeast of the proposed site, said attorney David Kirk, who presented on behalf of his client, Verizon representative Greg Spence. 

Both of the Planning Commission’s votes were 3-0, with Chairman Jason Hamby abstaining from each one. District 2 commissioner John Maloney was absent. 

Though he didn’t vote, Hamby shared his thoughts since the tower’s proposed spot was in his district.

“As far as Dawson County folks, you’re only going to reach a few,” Hamby said. 

Kirk maintained that the tower’s shape would direct the majority of service signals toward Dawson County. In addition to Verizon, three other service carriers would have the option of joining onto the new tower site if it's constructed. 

He added that his client had looked at a tower roughly four miles from the proposed site onto which Verizon could have joined instead. 

While that would have been a cheaper option and allowed for increased service sooner, he said building on there would not have led to better service for the target area. 

The adjacent residential-agricultural zoning does allow for cell towers as a special use to be put on lots like the proposed one, which spans 59 acres. 

However, planning the tower at a different location on the lot could mean placing it at a lower elevation, which would have to be compensated for by an increased height. Towers 200 feet tall or more must have day and night lights, per Federal Aviation Administration regulations.