City denies telecom tower on Medlock - North Atlanta Business Post
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Updated Nov 14 @ 1:05PM

City denies telecom tower on Medlock


JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Usually, when a telecom company brings a rezoning request to allow another cell tower it’s a routine item, but not so at the Feb. 27 Johns Creek City Council meeting.

Skyway Towers’ request for an 80-foot tower was denied 4-2 after City Council members were miffed that Skyway and Verizon Wireless, the major lessee on the tower, turned down a location on a Fulton County School because of price.

Councilman Lenny Zaprowski noted the tower could have been placed on Wilson Creek Elementary School but the Board of Education was demanding a lease three times the average lease agreement.

Zaprowski said the city should not have to be in the position to approve this tower location because Skyways and Verizon didn’t want to negotiate harder to put the tower on the school site.

Councilman Steve Broadbent also noted that the school was farther from Medlock Bridge Road and thus less intrusive for the general public.

Skyways attorney Ellen Smith said the lease amount was only one of several “problems” in the negotiations with the Board of Education and that the school was not “appreciatively” better for the purpose.

She noted that this tower was only 80 feet when the average height of telecom towers in Johns Creek is an average of 175 feet. She also noted that in addition to state and federal laws the tower meets all 14 of Johns Creek’s “stringent” telecom tower standards.

“You have to have a willing entity to negotiate a lease,” said Smith.

The company also offered to pay for the city’s own expert to determine if the city chose not to accept the transmission measurements showing the need for a tower in the area.

“In the old days, the need was about coverage, getting the phone signal,” Smith said. “Today, it is about data. More capacity is needed because today’s phones transmit more data such as video streaming and emails.”

The motion to deny was carried with Councilman Jay Lin and Mayor Mike Bodker opposing.

After the meeting, Bodker declined to comment about the decision saying it could become a matter of litigation.

The mayor did say state and federal regulations were skewed in the favor of the telecom companies. The local communities have small say in limiting where towers can be placed, Bodker said.

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