AT&T Backs Off Cellphone Tower Plan

Request To Build Structure Near Hospital Met Early Resistance

Posted: April 26, 2014

HARRISONBURG — AT&T has backed off of a proposed cellphone tower near Sentara RMH Medical Center.

The telecommunications giant sought to install a 150-foot monopole at 2607 Mattie Drive off Boyers Road, south of the hospital facility on Port Republic Road.

The Board of Supervisors tabled the request in June.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, county staff said the company, doing business as Cingular, has withdrawn its request and is seeking other options.

The proposal was met with resistance when originally put forth.

Officials with Sentara RMH opposed the tower, saying it would be in the path of medical helicopters traveling to and from the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville and that it would detract from views from patient rooms.

Additionally, neighbors raised concerns about how it would affect property values and aesthetics.

At a public hearing in June, a representative of AT&T told the Board of Supervisors that the company would not move forward with the proposal if it posed a safety risk.

The tower would be subject to Federal Aviation Administration requirements, Charlottesville attorney Valerie Long told the board at the time.

Supervisors opted to table AT&T’s request, asking that it seek other alternative locations.

Rockingham County staff also provided an update at Wednesday’s meeting on another request to build a telecommunications tower.

Shentel had sought to install a 180-foot monopole off West Mosby Road east of Pike Church Road, less than 100 feet from an existing tower owned by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Emergency Communications Center.

At a public hearing in February, the head of the ECC, Jim Junkins, raised concerns that Shentel’s tower would interfere with ECC’s, potentially putting area residents at risk in the event of an emergency.

Representatives of the company said those fears were unfounded and provided computer analysis they say backed their claims.

Supervisors also tabled that request so staff could work with the company and the county’s consultant to find a solution to the conflict.

Those efforts continue.

Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or jhunt@dnronline.com