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Planners OK cell tower for Hume

Saturday, Dec. 8 | By James Pinsky
Greg Rapisarda, an attorney for AT&T, discusses the lack of cell phone coverage in the Village of Hume at a public meeting last summer at Leeds Ruritan Park in Hume. Times-Democrat file photo
Cell phone gloom in Hume may soon be over.

The Fauquier County Planning Commission voted 3-2 in favor of a 155-foot telecommunications tower proposed by AT&T Corp., resulting in cheers from the crowd at Warrenton Middle School on Dec 5.

Fourteen Hume residents spoke in support of not only having the tower, but also specifically how they didn’t care about its aesthetics.

“When we moved out to Hume, the real estate agent sheepishly told us about the proposed cell tower they wanted to build near me, and she asked me if that was going to be OK, ” said Mark Freeman.

“I said, are you kidding? Of course it’s OK, I’m going to have awesome service,” he said.

Fellow Hume resident Kay Young was even more animated in her support.

“If the tower was a 1,000 feet tall and disguised as Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, I’d still be thankful for it because I would finally have service,” she said.

Marshall District Commissioner Bob Lee, and Scott District Commissioner Adrienne Garreau, voted in favor of a Lee-sponsored proposal to limit the tower to a more modest 138 feet tall.

Lee’s proposal was defeated, and immediately replaced by Lee District Commissioner John Meadows proposal to grant AT&T the full 155-foot tower they wanted.

That measure passed 3-2, with Lee and Garreau voting against it.

Lee’s motivation to limit the tower height came from its proposed location at 12093 Hume Road, also known as Poe Farm, which is listed with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

The northern rim of the property that adjoins Hume Road is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the adjacent property on the west side of Poe Farm is included in the John Marshall Leeds Manor Rural Historic District.

“I believed 138 feet was appropriate and will provide coverage for at least two carriers and probably three,” said Lee. “I thought it was a good compromise.”

Commissioners Meadows, Dale Ennis (Cedar Run District) and Chairman Ken Alm (Center District) felt differently.

Hume resident Virginia Lee said Lee wasn’t representing Marshall District residents, who overwhelmingly supported the tower.

“Bob Lee represents PEC [Piedmont Environmental Council], not me” she said.

After the meeting, Lee noted that he has “no affiliation with PEC whatsoever and never has.”

In other action at the meeting, all of the telecommunications special-exception amendments requested by Sprint, which included adding several microwave dishes to existing towers in the county, passed 5-0.

Verizon Wireless’ request to place a cell tower at 9572 Ivanhoe Lane in Delaplane, near Cobbler Mountain met lone opposition from Delaplane resident Stephen Lofaro, who lives closest to the proposed tower.

Verizon Wireless said in its statement of justification the proposed site will enhance service to the immediate and surrounding areas; specifically, it will provide and improve wireless coverage along the major thoroughfares of Interstate 66, Route 55, and U.S. 17.

The Verizon Wireless communication tower measure passed passed 5-0.

“We definitely need this tower,” said Meadows. “We need to get our residents into the 21st century.”

Three wine ordinance-related special exemption requests were also on the Dec 5 agenda.

Barrel Oak Winery and Fox Meadow Winery received support for their special exception requests with 5-0 votes by the commission.

Vintage Ridge Vineyard successfully requested to have its special-exemption request postponed.

Three county schools, W.G. Coleman Elementary School and Marshall Middle School, and Southeastern Alternative School received Planning Commission support to upgrade the existing water storage systems.
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