Panel recommends denial of tower

Citizens who live near church voice their opposition to tower

By Mike Anthony

The Sunset Hills Planning and Zoning Commission voted last week to recommend denial of a request to erect a 100-foot-tall telecommunications tower at 9907 Sappington Road.

Planning and Zoning Commission members voted 8-0 to recommend denial of a conditional-use permit, or CUP, to erect the monopole telecommunications tower and a shelter on property owned by the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection. Commission members Al Koller and Kevin Studer were absent from the June 4 meeting.

The request for the CUP was made by CIS Communications LLC, which owns and manages a number of tower locations throughout Missouri and Illinois.

William Jenkins of CIS told Planning and Zoning Commission members that he was representing AT&T.

“… AT&T actually at this point has a little bit over a hundred towers in the Missouri and Illinois area that we’re currently developing — many throughout the metro area, some of them up closer to Chicago,” he said.

AT&T is adding new towers to “help improve coverage and also fill some of the gaps and capacity issues that they’ve had over the last couple of years,” he added.

Commission member Joseph Niemeyer asked Jenkins, “… Did you contact the church or did the church contact you?”

Jenkins replied, “… We actually contacted the church … We have a number of sites that we are working and once we looked at that specific area, we pretty much ruled out, obviously, the ability to do it on any residential piece. And that’s what drew us to the church property.”

Niemeyer also asked Jenkins, “… You’re proposing a hundred-foot tower. What is the minimum tower that you could erect? …”

Jenkins responded that AT&T’s engineers determined the tower needed to be 100 feet tall.

“So they require that for their coverage. But the other thing that I will say is that as part of the (Sunset Hills municipal) code, we have to make the structure co-locatable for anybody … else may come along — Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, any of the other wireless carriers,” he said.

“So what we’ve designed on that tower is not only the availability for AT&T, but we have availability for those other carriers should they come along to locate on that same tower.”

Commission member Jeff Sanders noted the proposed tower would be 100 feet tall — “then beyond the monopole typically what I’ve seen on these antennas, the smaller antennas extend how far beyond a hundred feet? They’re not shown on the drawing very high, but I know what I’ve seen.”

Jenkins said, “… With our particular proposal here, they’re showing the top of their antennas at 105 (feet), which is not all that uncommon with a lot of the towers you see throughout the county and throughout the U.S. as well.”

Nine residents who live near the site of the proposed tower addressed the commission, saying they opposed the request and hoped it would be rejected. They said the tower would be an “eyesore” and expressed concerns about the impact on their property values, possible health risks and water runoff.

Gene Lynch of Doverhill Drive said, “…My backyard abuts right to the Lutheran Resurrection Church … I have no tree line. I’ve cleared all mine out, so I can look straight at this thing and see it anytime I want … I’ll see that antenna constantly. The neighbors across the street will see it …”

By performing an Internet search, he found 60 cell towers within a four-mile radius of the proposed tower, including one that Lynch said is owned by AT&T that is roughly five-eighths of a mile away from the church site.

“… I don’t know why they can’t put this thing some other place. It’s in the middle of a subdivision. There’s children at this school, at this church, every day … We just don’t think it should be in a residential area …,” he said.

Linda Aiken of Tioga Court told the commission that the proposed tower would be “an eyesore” and an “attractive nuisance” for neighborhood children.

“… We have a lot of people opposed to this. I’m standing here with the signatures of 45 people and that is only the beginning. I haven’t even started talking to neighbors …,” she said.