Emerson defers vote on cell tower
by Neil McGahee
Mar 25, 2014 | 1755 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At the request of LakePoint Sporting Community, the Emerson City Council deferred a decision to grant Bartow County a conditional use permit to build a cell transmission tower.

At the March 10 meeting, the Bartow County Water Department requested a conditional use permit to allow Verizon to build a transmission tower adjacent to a county water tank within Emerson city limits. The request was a first reading, and a second reading and vote was slated for last night.

But LakePoint said it was the first they had heard of it. In fact, they said they were just made aware of the zoning change request.

“It caught us by surprise,” David Branch, a partner in the LakePoint project, told the council. “We wanted to express our concerns to the council because we really don’t understand what is being proposed. We would like to request a 30-day deferral so that we could have a better opportunity to understand the application and to talk and work with Bartow County.”

Branch told the council that, when the LakePoint project was put together, there was a comprehensive memorandum of understanding among all the municipal partners — the city of Cartersville, the city of Emerson and Bartow County — that addressed certain rights LakePoint would have regarding the water tank.

“Our concern falls in several areas,” he said. “We are in the process of finalizing a comprehensive communication plan that involves the installation of a significant amount of fiber network and a myriad of communication issues. Early on we studied the communication needs and we considered building three cell towers, but as time went on, we felt it was better to bury those utilities and avoid having to build those towers.”

Branch said the company was concerned about the impact the county’s tower might have on LakePoint’s communications, especially the Greg Norman Golf Academy, which is planned for development along the same ridgeline as the water tower, in addition to planned residential components that will span the same ridgeline.

Council voted to defer the vote for 30 days.

Council also voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Bartow County Board of Education that would swap the old Emerson Elementary School building to the city in exchange for the city providing infrastructure improvements supporting the new elementary school.

“In order to construct the new school at its present location, the county was going to have to relocate lots of utilities,” said Todd Heath, assistant to the City Manager. “We moved all the gas, water and sewer lines as well as built a walking trail between the old and new schools in exchange for the old building, which will become the new city complex.”

In other business, the council:

• authorized taking $50,000 from the reserve funds to pay the expenses incurred from the two winter storms.

• authorized the purchase of a new police car.

• authorized a surplus property sale.

The Emerson City Council will hold its next regular meeting on Monday, April 14, at 7 p.m. at city hall.