SNOW HILL – County officials reaffirmed their opposition to a cell tower at the Ocean Pines Wastewater Treatment Plant with a decision this week.
The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday denied a request from Verizon and Calvert Crossland LLC to perform a balloon test to illustrate the position of a cell tower proposed for the treatment plant. Several commissioners said they’d made their opposition to the tower clear last month when they voted not to approve the land lease with Calvert Crossland, a company that works with Verizon.
“I think we should stand by what we’ve already said,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said.
In early December, the commissioners voted against a proposed land lease agreement with Calvert Crossland that would have allowed for construction of a Verizon tower at the Ocean Pines Wastewater Treatment Plant. Bertino and Commissioner Jim Bunting said residents in the area didn’t want the tower built.
Nevertheless, the county’s attorney told the commissioners this week that Verizon and Calvert Crossland had contacted her seeking permission to conduct a balloon test to display the height of the proposed tower. They also wanted to host public meetings to answer questions from community members.
Bunting was quick to object.
“We’ve already voted not to put the tower on the county property,” he said.
Commissioner Ted Elder agreed and indicated the matter should only be reconsidered if area residents changed their position on the issue.
Commissioner Bud Church said the balloon test could help the community better understand the visual impact of a cell tower.
Bertino stressed that there were several concerns with the proposed cell tower, including the fact that it would give outsiders access to a county facility and that it would be situated less than 500 feet from a heavily residential area.
“There are plenty of other locations Verizon can look at,” he said.
Commissioner Diana Purnell, president of the board, reminded the commissioners they were considering a request for balloon testing, not the tower itself.
“The question here is not the tower, it’s the balloon testing,” she said.
Bertino replied that there was no reason for a balloon test if the community didn’t want a cell tower.
Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said he would support the position of Bertino and Bunting, as they knew their constituents. He added, however, that officials should be wary of micro-towers, which he said were being used more and more by Verizon and could be installed just about anywhere.
Commissioner Josh Nordstrom said he didn’t see the harm in permitting the balloon test.
“It doesn’t obligate us to put a tower up but it will give the people of Ocean Pines some kind of real idea,” he said.
Nordstrom was the lone commissioner to vote against a motion to deny the request to conduct a balloon test. Bunting added that whether Verizon wanted to host a public meeting was up to the company, as county approval wasn’t needed.