Update: Milestone Alters WAHS Cell Tower Design

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Milestone Communications LLC's revised application for a cell tower at WAHS includes only three arrays and flush-mounted antennae.

In its quest to build a 145-foot wireless service facility on the grounds of Western Albemarle High School, cell tower developer Milestone Communications, LLC amended its application for special exceptions just ahead of the June 26 Planning Commission meeting where the tower was discussed. The changes were made in response to an earlier planning staff report, dated April 10, in which staff recommended rejection of the application for several reasons, including the number of arrays on the tower and the depth of the antennae’s protrusion from the pole, both of which violated the county’s wireless service facilities ordinance.

In response, Milestone amended its proposal in June to reduce the number of arrays from five to three, and to reduce the antennae protrusion from 65 to 18 inches, bringing those dimensions into compliance with the ordinance. However, Planning Commission staff still recommended denial of the overall proposal for violations of the county’s Comprehensive Plan and other visual aspects of the ordinance, noting in particular that “the location and height of the monopole does not provide adequate opportunities for screening and the facility is not sufficiently sited to minimize its visibility from adjacent parcels.” 

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors plans to consider the tower proposal during its September 12 meeting. In a related matter, the Albemarle County School Board was expected to discuss at their August 23 meeting the validity of a marketing agreement, enacted in 2017 between Milestone and former school division Chief Operating Officer Dean Tisdadt. However, that meeting was adjourned abruptly after attendees protesting an unrelated issue disrupted the proceedings, and no date has been given for future consideration of the marketing agreement. 

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