Verizon Wireless is requesting a county Special Use Permit to build a “Personal Wireless Service Facility,” otherwise known as a cell tower, on the corner of a 45-acre parcel that straddles I-64 at its intersection with Greenwood Station Road in Greenwood. This project was proposed in early 2021 in a slightly different location about 700 feet to the west, where it would have loomed over the entrance to Septenary Winery at Seven Oaks Farm, located directly south of that original site.
After objections in 2021 from the owners of Seven Oaks (as well as nearby Mirador Farm) that the 94-foot tall monopole would obstruct their views and detract from the value of their property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the application was deferred. The new application proposes a taller, 144-foot tower, though it would be only slightly higher over the treetops than the original design as the ground elevation drops by 34 feet in the new location.
At a public meeting on June 30, Lori Schweller of law firm Williams Mullen spoke on behalf of Verizon to describe the results of a recent balloon test, in which a brightly colored balloon is raised to the height of the proposed tower and photographed from several angles and distances to judge the tower’s visual impact. In another set of photos, the balloon is replaced by a photo-simulated image of a cell tower for comparison.
“The reason we moved the proposed monopole to the east was to minimize its visibility based on concerns expressed by the owners of Mirador and Septenary Winery,” said Schweller. She explained that the “monopole” must be tall enough to clear the surrounding tree line in order to propagate a sufficient cell signal to serve the area. “Given the change in elevation in the new location, the proposed monopole will be about 11 feet higher at mean sea level than the earlier submission.”
Photos of the balloon test showed that while it was fairly visible from I-64, it was difficult to see from most other angles. White Hall Board of Supervisors representative Ann Mallek asked why there were no photos taken from Seven Oaks among those presented. County planner Bill Fritz replied that the balloon could not be seen from Seven Oaks at all, so the photos would have just been of the empty sky.
Mallek also asked whether residents around the Greenwood Post Office can expect to receive better cell service coverage with this monopole installation, as that has been an area of serious need. Though state law prevents local governments from requiring private companies like Verizon to cover any particular service area, Schweller said the company was quite aware of the need, and “That’s why we’re here in front of you again [after beginning this process two years ago].”
No other community members commented either for or against the project. Next steps for the application are hearings with the Architectural Review Board on July 18, the Planning Commission on August 9, and the Board of Supervisors no later than October 13.