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Cell tower replacement approved

The Drakes Branch Town Council recently approved a request from the Drakes Branch Planning Commission to replace an existing cell tower in the town.

Before approval, a joint public hearing between the Drakes Branch Town Council and Planning Commission was held after being rescheduled from its original Oct. 2 date.

The hearing was held to gather public comment regarding a proposed tower request from Tower Assets Newco IX LLC— Tower Ventures.

According to a public notice released by the town, the request is “to replace an existing 108-foot guy-wire cell tower with a 180-foot monopole tower at 850 Proctor Street … to support cellular communications and wireless data services.”

During the public hearing, local citizen Philip Jackson was the only one to speak. He asked about the possibility of including an emergency signal on the tower to include storm warnings and an additional fire alarm.

“I think we’d have to ask the representative of the company. I don’t see why they couldn’t, but I think that’s up to them,” said Town Council Member Noah Davis.

Town Council Member Roscoe Eubanks said the Town of Drakes Branch did not have up to date cellular communications.

“The way I understand it is that the tower goes up . . . under particular ownership. In this case, this company in question (Tower Assets Newco IX LLC— Tower Ventures). Other communication companies lease space on the tower …

He said any additions would have to be requested.

Tower Ventures Principal Executive Vice President Craig Weiss previously said a guy-wire cell tower typically has a lattice center and guides that go out for support of the structure.

He said this type of structure can take up a lot of space, although they are typically seen in rural areas.

Referring to the current tower at 850 Proctor St., Weiss said “that’s an older tower that needs to be upgraded.”

Weiss explained the existing tower needs to be upgraded or replaced in order to meet standards.

He said the upgraded tower will take up less ground space, address the structural capacity and the additional height will allow for improved coverage.

Weiss said the upgraded tower will serve as a site for multiple tenants, including Verizon Wireless.

A letter from Tower Assets Newco IX LLC— Tower Ventures to the Town of Drakes Branch Office of Planning and Development said the new tower will be designed to support four carrier tenants.

“The cellular equipment planned for the proposed tower cannot be accommodated on the existing structure simply because the tower is too short,” the letter read.

He said the company has noted many coverage issues in the area.

“The citizens of Drakes Branch benefit each time a licensee expands its network coverage because each site enhances the licensee’s ability to provide emergency response services,” the letter read.