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Cell Tower Denied Again, but the Fight Is Not Over

By Andy Schneggenberger
On February 18, the City of Atlanta Office of Planning denied a second application by Communication Structures of Georgia LLC for a Special Administrative Permit to construct a 157-foot tall cell tower on the vacant parcel at 469 Metropolitan Place, next to the SunTrust drive-thru and parking lot. This denial followed an initial denial for a first application in August 2010. The site is also directly adjacent to homes on Metropolitan Place and across Haas Avenue. The applicant would have leased space on the tower to Clearwire for the purpose of mounting Clearwire’s antennae. The application proposed a security-fenced area of about 3,300 square feet in the middle of the lot, inside of which would have been the tower’s base and up to four accessory structures.
The City’s zoning ordinance encourages wireless providers like Clearwire or T-Mobile to use existing structures, including tall buildings, for the mounting of antennae wherever possible to avoid a proliferation of unnecessary towers. Approval of these permits is contingent upon the applicant demonstrating a need for the new tower and proving that locating on other existing structures could not reasonably provide wireless companies’ coverage needs. With Branan Towers just two blocks away and already a host to T-Mobile antennae, and with the numerous negative impacts of such a tower on the neighborhood, nearby residents and the East Atlanta Community Association organized once again to ensure that the applicant indeed proved that Branan Towers could not host Clearwire’s antennae as well.
With the assistance of neighborhood environmental attorney Martin Shelton and an engineering consultant, EACA submitted a data-based technical report questioning the application’s proof of need for the tower. After a thorough review, the Office of Planning found that the application had not met the threshold of proof and denied the application.
Communication Structures of Georgia LLC may appeal the decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals. They have also filed a lawsuit in federal court against the City for denial of the first application filed in August 2010. That case is currently in itspreliminary stages and has yet to go to trial.

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