Greenwood Cell Tower
On August 23rd, the Albemarle County Planning Commission discussed the long-proposed cell tower in Greenwood. The Planning Commission voted to recommend special use permits approving the tower to the Board of Supervisors, which may have the final say on the matter on October 5th. I am hopeful that the Board of Supervisors will finally approve it, thus providing much needed improvement in cellular and wireless service for rural residents in the area.
For those who haven’t been following this issue over the past three years, here is a quick recap: The Greenwood cell tower was originally proposed to be about 100 feet east of Greenwood Station Road and just to the south of Interstate 64 where the Greenwood Station Road overpass crosses I-64. The currently proposed location is still just south of I-64, but is shifted several hundred feet to the east in order to reduce the visual impact for neighboring properties.
Both the height and the distance of the antennas from the pole require special use permits since county wireless policy places a premium on visual impact. This policy is the reason that you don’t notice as many cell towers in Albemarle as you do in surrounding counties, which I appreciate. But it is also the reason cell coverage is spotty in Albemarle, as many rural residents can attest. This proposal is not for a massive lattice tower with panels 20 feet from the tower. If approved, it will be a single monopole 142 feet tall with the antennas mounted close to the pole.
The quality of the planning commission’s debate was admirable; it went nearly two hours and is available on the County’s website. Ultimately, they voted to recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors. I believe they did so because, in their judgement, the public benefit to residents of western Albemarle and travelers on I-64 outweighed the visual impact. I agree and hope that anyone else who does will write the Board of Supervisors to encourage them to approve the Greenwood cell tower. Public comments are received at [email protected].