City aldermen uphold cellular tower decision

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Natchez aldermen unanimously upheld a recent decision of the Natchez Metro Planning Commission Tuesday, clearing the way for construction of a telecommunication tower on Jeff Davis Boulevard.

The city issued a building permit to Guy Stout of Vanguard Towers LLC earlier this month after the planning commission approved a site plan for a 200-foot tower on the site.

The application was not included in a city-wide moratorium on new communication towers enacted by the Natchez Board of Aldermen in November because it had been submitted under existing guidelines.

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Local business owners Hal Hicks and Jack Stephens appealed the planning commission’s approval of the site plan and asked the aldermen to revoke the building permit.

Reading from the city’s ordinance governing telecommunication towers, Hicks pointed out a section prohibiting towers from being spaced within one-quarter mile of one another.

An earlier section in the ordinance prohibits new towers if an existing tower or structure within a one-mile search radius can accommodate the applicant’s antenna.

Hicks and Stephens said the ordinance’s definition of a tower is not limited to telecommunication towers and a radio tower already stands within one-quarter mile of the site on Jeff Davis Boulevard.

City Attorney Walter Brown agreed with city planning staff that the one-quarter mile restriction referred only to telecommunication towers and recommended the aldermen uphold the planning commission’s decision.

Hicks said the planning staff was &uot;selectively interpreting&uot; the ordinance and that the aldermen should abide by the ordinance they approved and &uot;stand up for the citizens of Natchez.&uot;

Brown said he had researched many similar appeals against telecommunication towers in the last few weeks that suggest in cases of doubt, municipalities should rule in favor of the &uot;facilitation of the rapid expansion of the wireless telecommunication industry,&uot; as called for by Congress in the Telecommunication Act of 1996.