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Thread: Help on a tower cup

  1. #1
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Help on a tower cup

    I could use some sage advise, but I think i'm screwed.

    I have a cell tower proposed on agricultural zoned land that happens to be a golf course - no problem. My code allows towers in all zones as a use permit. There are no codes to regulate height, setbacks, or anything specific to guide the use permit. We use the general requirement to make findings to approve or deny use permits. Don't ask why I have no codes, the last planner didn't feel it was necessary for whatever reason.

    The case:
    Like I said, the zoning is okay, it's a golf course which is fine. The tower is 180' high monopole (no requirements to regulate height or camoflauge). The tower sits 80' from the property line (no setback requirement). On the other side of the property line is the city limits. The city prefers towers are 400' from residential areas (not that I can enforce city codes - and obviously i'm the county planner). The city also has an approved pre-plat for that location. Let's just say the developer is not a happy man (he is easy to work with though). The planning commission looked at the case and denied the tower based on a desire for a setback equal to the tower height (every tower before did it - they did it without being asked and had room to move). This tower can't move over, it would end up on the fairway (no mini golf windmill jokes!). The tower is getting appealed based on no code to support the setback finding. The tower could also be engineered to fall within the 80' setback according to the applicant.

    My problem, I think the tower will affect the ability of the developer to sell lots in the future and the few houses that are currently around (400' or more away) would have an ugly tower to look at (the neighbors aren't happy either). I just can't figure out how to make a substantial finding to say that it could lower property values (the tower already gave me research saying it doesn't) or how to say it just doesn't fit into the community. Using just general use permit approval standards from the courts and no codes to support it, is there a finding I might be able to make?

    Just to make you laugh at me some more, we are trying to get new codes in place, but the newly elected people don't seem to want any new codes (that was their campaign platform).
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I'm very much of the opinion that we have absolutely no business worrying about property values in our planning decisions. Property values are extremely fickle; trying to project the impacts of a planning decision on property values is an exercise in self-deception. It's also worth noting that changes in property values are a symptom. Why do property values change? Because of a positive or negative change to the neighbourhood. Focus on the material aspects of a proposal, and property values will sort themselves out.

    As for your specific problem: sounds to me like there's not much you can do. I suspect the applicant will win on the appeal. I guess the upside is that neighbouring residents will have awesome LTE network coverage.

    I'm kinda happy that here in Canada the feds have decided cell towers are essential infrastructure and removed our power to regulate them.

  3. #3
    Member
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    Cell Tower

    I agree with hipp5 that is sounds like the applicant will win this case in the absence of codes. I disagree that planners have no business worrying about property values, but that is a separate issue. I don't believe that cell towers have that profound of an effect on property values most of the time, but they definitely can. My parents house is located within sight of a cell tower that went up 5 years ago (its located adjacent to the park where I used to play little league and it looks horrible), and also a radio tower for a local radio station. The radio tower is located in an open field, but there are houses within 100 yards of it. As far as I know, there has been no negative effect on the property values of the area. I have a friend that lives even closer to this tower, and she hasn't seen any negative effects from it to her property. Any negative effect would primarily be in perceived value, not many people would prefer to see a huge cell tower from their front window.

    Of course, the situation is different, because that area was developed in the 1950's and the tower went up after. It sounds like there is a lot of develop-able land around the proposed cell tower, and I think you're right, this could effect perceived home and land values.

    My advice would be to get the residents organized and involved if you want the tower to go elsewhere. I was once told by an alderman that his entire job consisted of him trying to get people to stop calling him. So the more complaints those newly elected people of yours get, the more likely they are to do something, although they may not be able. I don't know of any studies linking cell towers to decreased home values, but I would search some appraisers forums and see if they have any more detailed information.

    And just to clarify: the newly elected officials ran on a platform of no codes (I'm guessing in the unincorporated area), and now the residents that voted for them don't want this tower, which could have been prevented from locating near their homes had a proper code been established? That's American politics for you...

  4. #4
    Member
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    Cell Tower

    I agree with hipp5 that is sounds like the applicant will win this case in the absence of codes. I disagree that planners have no business worrying about property values, but that is a separate issue. I don't believe that cell towers have that profound of an effect on property values most of the time, but they definitely can. My parents house is located within sight of a cell tower that went up 5 years ago (its located adjacent to the park where I used to play little league and it looks horrible), and also a radio tower for a local radio station. The radio tower is located in an open field, but there are houses within 100 yards of it. As far as I know, there has been no negative effect on the property values of the area. I have a friend that lives even closer to this tower, and she hasn't seen any negative effects from it to her property. Any negative effect would primarily be in perceived value, not many people would prefer to see a huge cell tower from their front window.

    Of course, the situation is different, because that area was developed in the 1950's and the tower went up after. It sounds like there is a lot of develop-able land around the proposed cell tower, and I think you're right, this could effect perceived home and land values.

    My advice would be to get the residents organized and involved if you want the tower to go elsewhere. I was once told by an alderman that his entire job consisted of him trying to get people to stop calling him. So the more complaints those newly elected people of yours get, the more likely they are to do something, although they may not be able. I don't know of any studies linking cell towers to decreased home values, but I would search some appraisers forums and see if they have any more detailed information.

    And just to clarify: the newly elected officials ran on a platform of no codes (I'm guessing in the unincorporated area), and now the residents that voted for them don't want this tower, which could have been prevented from locating near their homes had a proper code been established? That's American politics for you...

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I could use some sage advise, but I think i'm screwed.

    My problem, I think the tower will affect the ability of the developer to sell lots in the future and the few houses that are currently around (400' or more away) would have an ugly tower to look at (the neighbors aren't happy either). I just can't figure out how to make a substantial finding to say that it could lower property values (the tower already gave me research saying it doesn't) or how to say it just doesn't fit into the community. Using just general use permit approval standards from the courts and no codes to support it, is there a finding I might be able to make?

    Just to make you laugh at me some more, we are trying to get new codes in place, but the newly elected people don't seem to want any new codes (that was their campaign platform).
    I agree with the disagreement about property values. Nonetheless, it is what it is. You are presiding over a possible degradation of property values from this legal use. Change it when it is over. I used to work in a place that looks cr*ptacular now because no one had the b*lls to change it until it was too late.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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