Sussex County Delaware

Council Addresses
Radio, Phone Towers

Sussex County Council ...

Changes May be Made
to Tower Ordinance

Sussex County Council discussed concerns from the county's Planning and Zoning Commission regarding radio and cell phone towers at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2001.

Planning and Zoning Commission members are concerned about the number of towers going up around the county and concerned that council has approved two towers of more than 150 feet in the last two years for which they had recommended denial.

Sussex County Administrator Robert L. Stickels told council that the commission is concerned with the number of towers going up throughout the county and would like council to consider changes to the ordinance regulating those towers.

The current, 30-year-old ordinance doesn't require council approval for towers of less than 150 feet. Builders of such towers most only complete a site plan review by the planning and zoning commission.

Stickels said that in the past two years alone, 55 towers have been built in the county for radio and cell phone frequencies. Many are in residential areas where land is cheaper, Stickels said.

Stickels called the towers "eyesores" and said their number will only continue to grow as cell phones become more common in a county where numerous dead spots plague cell phone users now.

Stickels said ordinance changes could include limiting towers in residential districts or to within 500 feet of residential districts, complying with county setbacks, and requiring applicants for a waiver from those terms to go before the county's Board of Adjustments.

Appeals to rejections from the Board of Adjustments would be heard in Superior Court, according to County Planning and Zoning Director Lawrence Lank.

Councilman Lynn Rogers said he has heard concerns from crop-dusting pilots who say they can't see the towers in the haze.

Councilman Vance Phillips suggested giving the Board of Adjustment responsibility for such requests to remove political influence from the decision-making process.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss changes to the ordinance on April 5, while council will visit the issue again on April 24.

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