Board approves cell tower; revisits street parking of 18-wheelers

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The Erwin Board of Commissioners voted to approve two agenda items following public hearings during their regular March monthly meeting. They agreed to a text amendment to an ordinance regarding oversized vehicles parking on town streets. They also approved a rezoning request which will allow a 150-foot tower to be erected by US Cellular.

Board members agreed to change the language of a current ordinance pertaining to oversized vehicles parking on the streets in Erwin. There was a clerical error in the verbiage in the current ordinance and this amendment corrected that. The amendment also added information regarding the penalties for violating the ordinance.

Town Manager Snow Bowden said safety was the main concern for the ordinance. It is illegal to park or leave any oversized vehicle, truck, or truck and trailer combination with an individual length of 25 feet or more on any street in town.

“Temporary parking is OK — if you are unloading, that is temporary,” Mr. Bowden said. “This is really going after trucks that are parking on the streets at all times. This makes it a hazard because EMS, the fire department and police department cannot see the addresses on the houses.”

He said it also made it difficult for people to back out of their driveways.

A penalty added to the town code states that on the first offense the fine shall be $10, for a second offense within 30 days of a first offense the fine shall be $20, for third offense within 30 days of a second fine shall be $25 and the town shall have the right to have the trailer towed off at the expense of the owner.

No one spoke during the public hearing, either for or against the item.

Erwin Police Chief Jonathan Johnson said his departments has received some complaints about this in the past. He said his department will work with the public and will not start issuing citations right away.

“If someone sees something, call it into the police department or town hall. After hours, they may call the non-emergency number,” Chief Johnson said.

This is something that the board may have to be revisit again at a later date, Mr. Bowden said.

Cell tower

A request to rezone vacant property at the end of Walter Drive from residential to industrial district-conditional district was approved. This will allow a telecommunications tower to be placed on the property. The tower would provide coverage for a large group of residents in Erwin and the surrounding area that have US Cellular as their provider.

Approval of the request was with the condition that only a 150-foot tower can be located at the site.

The tract of land is just outside of Erwin town limits, but is in the planning zone. It is surrounded by residential zoning and is next to a subdivision including nine homes.

Mike Doran, a representative with US Cellular, attended the meeting to answer any questions the board of commissioners had about the tower.

Marilyn I. Quinn spoke against the rezoning request. She said her family has owned the adjoining property since it was Duke Township. She said it was always farmland and she wanted it to remain as farmland.

“I plan to come back some day and build a house there,” she said, “and I do not want to look at a tower out of my bedroom window.”

Commissioner and Mayor Pro-Tem Randy L. Baker noted that the proposed tract of land is as close to rural as you could get, which is evident by the large tracts of farmland out there.

“Cell towers, although not the most pleasing sight ... after they’re there a while, it kind of blends in with the landscape and you don’t pay that much attention to them,” Mr. Baker said.

“I completely understand individuals owning adjacent property to them wanting to take and keep that,” he said. “As far as looking at overall sights, there’s not many other places within the town’s jurisdiction that has as much open land as this for the tower.

“It is a public necessity as far as communications,” he said.

“Cell towers are here to stay — I think we’re going to see more of them,” said Commissioner Billy Turnage. “We’ve got to stay up with the times. If not, we’re going to be left behind.”

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