HARRISONBURG — The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a request from Verizon to build a new cell tower during Wednesday’s meeting.
Verizon requested a special-use permit to install a 199-foot tower and supporting equipment on the east side of John Kline Lane west of Broadway. The property is zoned for agricultural use and is owned by Dorothy Shipp, with Wallace Shipp being the power of attorney.
Lori Schuelle, a representative of Verizon, said a new telecommunications tower is needed to both expand coverage and to increase network capacity.
“Wireless is taking over the communications world,” Schuelle said. “And 52% of Americans are wireless only, no landline.”
Schuelle said construction would take anywhere from six weeks to two months and a 20-foot-wide access road stretching 1,500 feet would be included.
Belinda Copenhauer, a neighboring property owner, expressed health concerns with radio waves coming from the tower. She said she does not live on the property but plans to move there with her family.
She also told the board that the entrance to the access road encroaches on her property.
Schuelle said Verizon will address the issue, saying the company does not intend to be on her property.
Supervisors approved the special-use permit request so long as the applicant works with the Virginia Department of Transportation, 5-0.
The board also voted to change the county’s code addressing the handling of stray dogs.
Rockingham County law enforcement officers will now be able to take control of a stray dog, alleviating the responsibility from an animal control officer. Previous code allowed for only an animal control officer to take a lost or wandering dog to the SPCA.
County Attorney Thomas Miller said the change was more of a “housekeeping item,” saying lately magistrates have been reading the law closely and language in the county’s code needed to be updated due to a sheriff’s deputy being unable to seize a stray dog.
Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson told the board if the new language helps to clarify things, then the change is good.
The board also heard from Don Komara, residency administrator for the Virginia Department of Transportation, who gave an update on the Massanetta Springs Road project.
A portion of Massanetta Springs Road near U.S. 33 was closed beginning in mid-February for road improvements. Assistant County Administrator Casey Armstrong said the project is complete and the road is open.
Komara said he recently did a final walk-through on the project, telling the board that the road “looks very good.”
“It turned out to be a very good project,” Komara said.
He said he would still like to do additional work on the median, saying it was overlooked in design.
Komara reminded the board that the Commonwealth Transportation Board will be holding a public meeting in Harrisonburg on Oct. 28 to discuss transportation programs, ideas and to answer questions about the Commonwealth’s multimodal transportation network.
The meeting is from 3 to 6 p.m. and will be held at DoubleTree by Hilton, 1400 E. Market St.
Supervisors also approved a special-use permit request that was tabled during the Sept. 11 meeting.
Lindale Mennonite Church requested to have a child care building on property located on the northeast side of Shaver Mill Road and south of Harpine Highway.
Diana Stultz, zoning administrator for the county, told the board in September that there was a zoning violation found after the church made a special-use permit request that needed to be resolved before granting the permit.
Supervisor Sallie Wolfe-Garrison said the violation had been resolved, and the special-use permit was granted in an unanimous vote.