The Oconee County Planning Commission voted 6-4 on Monday night to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that it deny Robert W. Strickland a permit to construct a communication tower on his property just outside the Eastville community in the northwestern part of the county.
About 15 people turned out to oppose the tower, saying it would adversely affect the value of their properties. They asked that the tower be built on commercial property rather than on the Strickland property, which is zoned for agriculture.
Jennifer Blackburn, representing Verizon Wireless, which wants to lease 14,400 square feet of the 25-acre Strickland property to construct a 190-foot cell tower, told the opponents there was no commercial space available in the area where the tower is needed.
Planning Commission members questioned Blackburn on the company’s decision to seek permission to build a new tower rather than put its equipment on an existing tower and on the decision to serve the area of the county selected rather than others in the county also with weak cellular signals.
The issue now goes to the Board of Commissioners, which is scheduled to take up the matter at its meeting on Oct. 8.
Three persons used the public hearing to speak against the cell tower, including Robert Young, who identified himself as the developer of the nearby Brookhaven subdivision off Hodges Mill Road.
Young said he had 37 lots that he expects to begin developing in a new section of the subdivision by the first of next year.
Buyers of a $300,000 to $350,000 house do not want a 190-foot cell tower “across the street from you,” he told the Commissioners.
Young said he thought more people would have turned out in opposition had they seen the signs for the hearing on Strickland’s property, located at 1571 Parker Creek Road.
The Planning Commission Monday unanimously recommended that the BOC approve a request by RWJ Inc. to rezone just less than two acres of land now designated for Office Institutional Professional use so it can be incorporated into the existing Meridian subdivision off Mars Hill Road.
It also unanimously recommended the BOC grant a special use approval for a sign manufacturing facility inside the Lampkin Branch Business Park off U.S. 441 just north of Watkinsville.
Those requests also will be before the BOC at its regular meeting on Oct. 8, which is scheduled to start in the courthouse at 7 p.m.