New Cell Tower Site In Ivy Gets Balloon Visibility Test

Red balloon cell tower visibility test in Ivy.

A bright red balloon was lifted 20 feet above the treetops on a wooded ridge off Morgantown Road Dec. 12 to mark the location and relative visibility of a new AT&T cell phone tower that will improve service in the Ivy area.

Valerie Long of the Charlottesville law firm of Williams Muller represented AT&T at the site and explained the procedure by which it could be approved to a dozen neighbors who came to inspect the location, some worried about possible health effects of microwave “spray” from the tower.

Towers can be administratively approved by the county if they co-locate with an existing tower or are no more than 10 feet higher than the nearby trees.

AT&T is seeking a special use permit to place a tower that is 20 feet higher than the trees around it. The permit requires proof that the tower has no adverse impact on visibility, Long explained, hence the balloon raising. If trees grow to interfere with the tower, AT&T can petition to raise it.

The balloon was very difficult to spot, even close by the reference tree, a 73-foot pine that stands at the edge of a mature, neatly laid out planting of pines. From Rt. 250 west of Ivy it was virtually undetectable. The site is about a half-mile west of the Ivy trestle.

The tower will provide 4G LTE (long term evolution) service, the most current technology, Long said. “AT&T needs more towers to meet access demands for data transmission.”

Long said AT&T likes to place towers near evergreen trees because they conceal them better. The top of the pole will be painted brown.

No date has been set for the Board of Supervisors to consider the tower.