Lookout Mountain, Tn., Step Closer To New Cell Tower Near The Town Hall; Raises Property Tax 4 Cents

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - by Gail Perry

Lookout Mountain, Tn., is a step closer to getting a new 130-foot cell tower at a site near the Town Hall.

A conditional zoning request was unanimously granted to Wireless Properties at the July commission meeting. This moves the town closer to improving inadequate cell phone service. At a public hearing after the regular meeting Josh Ligon from Wireless Properties presented a proposal that meets all requirements in the town’s cell phone ordinance. This vote only concerns zoning.

A second vote will take place and, if approved, negotiations will follow.

Mayor Carol Mutter explained that by federal law the town must consider a request if it meets conditions in the ordinance. AT&T, a second contender to build a tower, withdrew its request. Upon closer examination it was found that CMA, the company that made a presentation for “small cell technology” at the last meeting, had actually never installed a system and requested a contract with the town before doing a feasibility study. 

Wireless Properties is in the business of providing towers for co-locating. Both options the firm has proposed are 130 feet tall and would accommodate five carriers. A tower disguised as a flag pole would be put in the present location of the flag pole at city hall. The second choice is a tower that could be disguised as a tree, which would be put in the wooded area behind city hall. Both would require a 65-by-75-foot area at the base. Neither would require illumination. Mr. Ligon speculated that it would provide capacity for five-six years. It was suggested that small cell technology could possibly be used to supplement the system where service is still lacking and when the system needs expansion.

To consider alternatives to a tower, the options must be viable. Small cell technology is still being investigated by the commissioners. Two providers have been located, but they must be interested and submit proposals.

 Ellen Tessmann, a resident of East Brow Road, spoke on behalf of neighbors in the area who are concerned with speeding near the “cowpath.” East Brow has many blind curves, and it is known that a speeding problem exists. Chief Randy Bowden has addressed the problem in the past with DOT and was told not to use speed bumps to slow traffic until there have been wrecks. The main concern of those that use the path is that someone will be hurt by cars that are unable to see around the curves.

Despite the speed limit being 25 mph cars routinely travel at 45 mph. Suggestions for making the cross-walk safer included placing solar-powered speed signs on poles, marking the cross-walk with paint or putting up a caution light.

Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham offered some of his discretionary money to help pay for the solution that is decided upon. He also offered a consultation from the Hamilton County Highway Department.

Ansley Moses, who has been the town’s representative to the WWTA since the sewers were sold in 2006, gave his final report to the commissioners. Walker Jones will succeed him in that position. Mr. Moses said the WWTA is under a federal mandate to reduce water that infiltrates the sewer system during heavy rain.

The WWTA will replace all old clay or cast iron sewer lines leaving a house that are faulty and return property to the original condition. To do this the homeowner must sign an easement letter giving ownership of the lines to the WWTA. Mr. Moses plans on sending a letter of request to all homes that have not yet signed the agreement. The cost to do this work would be $3,000-$5,000, he said, if the homeowner had to pay. This program is funded by federal money. The WWTA is not responsible for problems that are caused by items such as toys in the lines or pipes that have broken by digging.

  The July commission meeting and final vote on the new budget was postponed until the Hall state income tax amount is known. Lookout Mountain, Tn. will receive $707,773, which is $47,000 more than last year. This year there is a projected deficit of $52,000 with spending planned at $3,341,164. The difference will come from the town’s reserves. Mr. Montague said that general administration costs are greater this year because of legal expenses related to the cell phone tower. The budget includes a two percent increase for town employees and a four cent increase in property taxes.

Commissioner of Fire and Police Ernie Minges reported the monthly statistics compiled by Chief Bowden. In June police answered 76 calls, patrolled 4,630 miles and answered 20 burglar alarms that were all false. There were seven assist citizen calls, 11 calls to 911, one auto accident with no injuries, 11 traffic stops, no burglaries or arrests and one theft reported that concerned credit card fraud. There were 14 medical calls and six mutual aid medical calls to Georgia. Four fire alarms were answered, all were false.

Joe Hailey, commissioner of parks and playgrounds, reported on the progress of the new tennis courts. Delays have been on-going with every day of rain stopping work for two more days for drying. Fencing and lights are already operational and asphalt should be in place in the next couple of weeks. After it cures 21 days, the final surface will be put down.

 Teachers return to school Aug. 1 and children on Aug. 7, said Don Stinnet, commissioner of schools.

Mayor Mutter recognized Chief Bowden and the police department for very positive letters she received for help given to residents.

Café on the Corner is in the beginning stages of rebuilding. The architect has been talking to the city about ordinances before starting plans.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Aug. 12.

 



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