Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Request for MoCo Tower Committee to Table Inaccurate, Incomplete Applications (Including Blair HS) and to Include Public Comment in Process as Per MoCo Regulation COMCOR 02.58E.01.05(b)

Today, the Montgomery County Transmission Facility Coordinator Group (Tower Committee) is meeting at 2 PM to consider a number of applications from cell tower vendors.  Among the applications to be considered today are a number of very large radio/cell towers on or near fire stations around the County.  

These applications appear to be going before the Tower Committee without public notice, review or input.  The Parents' Coalition made these applications public just yesterday.  Why didn't Montgomery County make these applications public?  

In reviewing these applications we have discovered that one of these new very tall towers is slated to be constructed on the Montgomery Blair High School baseball field.  To date, no school communities have supported the construction of a cell tower on public school land.  Many MCPS schools have been very vocal about their opposition to these commercial construction projects on school land.  What is the position of the Blair High School parents?  What is the position of the neighbors of Blair High School?  

Below is an e-mail sent today from Sue Present to the Tower Committee asking that these applications be tabled due to inaccurate information, incomplete information, and due to the absence of community notice and opportunity to comment as per Montgomery County Regulations. 

From: suepresent 
Date: Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 11:06 AM
To: "Williams, Marjorie"
Cc: "Schaeffer, Matt" , "Bowser, Ted" , "Niblock, David" ,,, "Williamson, Thomas A." ,, Ike Leggett , "Miller, Judy" , WPCA , "Morgan, Carl" , "Segal, Sonny" , "Royalty, Clifford"

Dear Margie,


I appreciate your having released the applications for the new radio communications towers, yesterday. There has been woefully insufficient time to thoroughly examine these applications, which are on today’s agenda. However, in focusing my attention on TFCG application 201712-05, the one that is identified for Fire Station 16, I have already discovered significant flaws/concerns.

1)      Co-location Opportunity. The applicants identify the co-location alternatives that they dismissed within a 2-mile radius, and explain their rationale. They identify a lattice tower registered to MNCPPC, which the application says is 265’ in height, and explain that they dismiss it because as a radio broadcast tower it is “hot.”

Presumably, this is the 247’-high (not 265’ high) radio broadcast tower that is located at Sligo Creek Golf Course. It is the tower at which Verizon received the TFCG’s “recommendation of application 201612-05 to attach twelve 72'-high panel antennas at the 120' level, and the Planning Board subsequently approved the installation. Thus, for Verizon, the radio tower being “hot” was not an issue.

As is explained in the applicant response dated December 13, 2017, to meet the applicant’s need for this proposed radio communications, the attachments are needed at a height on the structure of 180’.  Under the circumstances, this applicant provides inadequate clarification as to why it cannot attach at the equivalent height (which I presume to be approximately 197’ on the nearby 247’ Sligo Creek Golf Course radio tower) when Verizon has already demonstrated its ability to attach to the Sligo Golf Course radio tower.

2)      Land Authorizations. In my previous communication to the Tower Committee, dated December 29, 2017, I alerted the Committee to the restrictive covenant governing Blair Local Park (and attached a copy). At the time of that message I was uncertain of the proposed location. It now seems evident that the plan is to locate the very large monopole on Blair Local Park. But, as previously explained, the restrictive covenant prohibits the use of the Blair Local Park land for any use other than Public Open Space. The proposed radio tower use is thus prohibited without modifications to the restrictive covenant. 

In addition, I raised concerns about easements. The application (overall site plan C-2) references “existing easement.” The easements, which of course were improperly conferred with the original Nextel/Sprint lease, indicated that they would cease when the telecommunications facilities became “obsolete.” The telecommunications facilities became obsolete when the lease was terminated and all telecommunications facilities were removed from the property, and the structure took on the sole purpose of a light standard, in 2015. There are no current easements in the County Land Records. I assert that without proper State authorization, any easements that would facilitate a communications tower would contravene the restrictive covenant.

3)      Monopole Height. The applicant’s justification – identifying other prospective users and the wishes of the manager of the land (for whom there would be greater revenue generated from the higher tower) – is inadequate for the monopole height of 195’. The facts demonstrate that the applicant’s needs can be met with a structure no higher than 180’ in height.

Although speculative, the additional information provided in this application that supports the State Highway Administration’s interest in communication space at this approximate location should bolster further exploration of siting on the substantial SHA parcel that abuts Fire Station 16 and Blair Local Park, between University Blvd. E. and the beltway, or upon other even more appropriate State Highway land.
Based upon these comments and those that you have received from a few other members of the public, it appears that the Tower Coordinator did not adhere to COMCOR 02.58E.01.05 in “recommending” to the TFCG the location of Blair Local Park for this monopole. Adequate consideration has not been given, per that regulation, for:
·        zoning standards for siting a telecommunications transmission facility;
·        effect of the telecommunications transmission facility on the land owning agency;
·        co-location options; and
·        potential impacts on the surrounding area(s).

And, you have received direct comments from only a few members of the public. That is because there has been no public process of notification and public input for almost all of these proposed facilities)as noted in my previous message, the land owner(s) failed to follow COMCOR 02.58E.01.05(b).

So, I urge the Tower Committee to POSTPONE the review of TFCG application 201612-05 and of all the applications on today’s agenda for NEW MCRCS Telecommunications Towers/Monopoles to provide for the Land Owning Agencies, the Tower Coordinator, and the Tower Committee to adhere to all regulations articulated in COMCOR 02.58E. Postponing these applications would provide the applicant a necessary do-over. The County needs to provide the surrounding communities where these facilities are proposed with appropriate due process, and to treat them with respect, too.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sue Present

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