Monday, December 04, 2023

Oconee County Commission Considering Leasing Space In Oconee Veterans Park, At Butler’s Crossing Collection Site, For Cell Towers

***Agreement On Agenda For Tuesday Meeting***

Oconee County Commissioners took steps last week at their agenda setting meeting to improve the cell phone coverage in the northern part of the county when they heard details of two Ground Lease Agreements with Alpharetta-based Prime Tower Development.

The agreements will allow Prime Tower to construct 199 foot tall cell towers at the county’s Butler's Crossing Collection Site, 1030 Rankin Road, and at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road.

County Administrator Justin Kirouac said the towers will work in concert with each other and improve service in the busy commercial corridor along Hog Mountain Road now that the cell tower in Butler’s Crossing is no longer functioning.

The item will be on the agenda tomorrow (Tuesday) night for further discussion when the Board also will hear rezone, special use, and variance requests for a commercial development with a self-storage unit at what will be a second entrance to Oconee Veterans Park.

At the agenda-setting meeting last week, the Board also gave tentative approval to an agreement for naming rights at Heritage Park and agreed to join a lawsuit over chemicals linked to the Bear Creek Water Treatment Plant.

The Board also tentatively agreed to abandon Hillsboro Road in North High Shoals as a step toward turning that roadway over to North High Shoals and approved the annexation by Watkinsville of that part of the Thomas farm not currently in the city.

These last items will be on the consent agenda, meaning they likely will be approved tomorrow without further discussion, as will renewal of 55 alcohol licenses, up from the 50 renewed for the current calendar year.

The public meeting last week lasted only about 25 minutes, but the Board then went into executive session to discuss land acquisition, personnel matters, and litigation, returning nearly an hour later but without taking any action.

Cell Towers

Kirouac told the Board of Commissioners that citizens have expressed concern about cell service in the county and “we have had some conversations in the past about some potential tower providers, especially at OVP (Oconee Veteran’s Park).”

Kirouac 11/28.2023

Kirouac said Prime Tower Development approached the county about putting towers at the Rankin Road collection site and at OVP.

The tower at the collection site will be at the back of that property, outside the gated area, and the tower at OVP will be at the rear of the park across from the Maintenance Facility.

“These would provide a significant amount of additional coverage over what we currently have,” Kirouac said, “especially with the existing Tower at Butler's Crossing no longer functional.”

The towers would carry T-Mobile and three additional carriers, Kirouac said, as well as public safety radio.

Prime Tower would be responsible for the permitting process with the Federal Communication Commission and for constructing the towers.

Prime Tower will pay the county $17,400 a year for each of the sites for five years.

The lease can be extended for 10 additional five-year terms, with rent increasing in each subsequent term by 10 percent over the previous term.

Consent Items

Lisa Davol, Director of Oconee County Parks and Recreation, told the Board last week that Wayne and Susan Norris want to make a donation of $100,000 over four years for improvements at Heritage Park in the far south of the county.

Location Of Cell Tower
(Small Box Center, Right)
With Dog Park At Top

The Board agreed, pending final action tomorrow, to place a plaque in the park stating that the donor contributed to the Heritage Park improvements.

The Board accepted the recommendation of County Attorney Daniel Haygood that the county join a lawsuit over what are termed "forever chemicals" in its capacity as a partner of the Upper Oconee Basic Water Authority.

Also on Haygood’s advice, the Board tentatively agreed to “declare that it is in the best interest of the public” that Hillsboro Road as it runs through North High Shoals be abandoned.

North High Shoals has agreed to accept the roadway, Haygood said, and the declaration by the Board is the first step in the transfer of responsibility for the roadway.

Haygood also told the Board that the city of Watkinville has taken action to annex about 20 acres of the Thomas farm on Simonton Bridge Road that lies outside the current city limits.

The Board agreed to consent to the city’s annexation of the parcel, pending approval of the consent agenda tomorrow night.


The Board will hold a public hearing tomorrow night on the request by Parkside developer Mark Jennings for a rezone of 20 acres that front on Hog Mountain Road and abut the eastern side of Oconee Veterans Park and five adjoining acres cut from another parcel for a commercial center.

Four lots totaling 8.7 acres will be developed in the initial phase, with one of those lots, 5.8 acres in size, to be used for a self-storage facility consisting of 12 one- and two-story buildings.

The development is being called Parkside Promenade and will include, according to the narrative submitted with the rezone request, retail shops, a pharmacy, convenience store, offices, including medical offices, restaurants, and service centers.

Jennings also is asking for a special use approval to allow for the self-storage facility and a variance to the county’s buffer requirements.

As part of the project, Jennings will construct a second entrance to Oconee Veterans Park that will run through Parkside Promenade .

The Planning Commission, in a 5 to 3 vote, recommended approval of the rezone.


The video below is on the Oconee County YouTube Channel.

The Nov. 28 meeting starts at 10:28 in the video.

Kirouac began his discussion of the cell towers at 28:54 in the video.

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