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County commissioners to again consider broadcast tower

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó For the second time in six years, county commissioners will consider a request Monday from a radio station owner to build broadcast tower in Mount Ulla.
Greely ěGigî Hilton, president of Davidson County Broadcasting, has applied for a conditional use permit to build a 1,200-foot broadcast tower on property owned by Richard L. and Dorcas Parker.
Arguments for and against the application will be heard in a quasi-judicial hearing starting at 4 p.m. Monday, on the second floor of the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Rowan County Administration Building.
The regular meeting of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners will be held at 3 p.m., one hour before the hearing.
Hilton and the Parkers will be represented at the hearing by attorney Stephen Holton.
Opposing the request is a citizensí group made up of the Miller Airpark Association, the Mount Ulla Historic Preservation Society and James and Marian Rollans. Attorney Richard Reamer will be representing them.
According to the hearing procedures adopted by commissioners, county planning staff first will give a presentation on the case. Then, each party will be given time to make opening and closing statements, present evidence, call witnesses, cross-examine the other partyís witnesses and make rebuttals.
Near the end of the hearing, time also will be given for testimony from the public.
Once the hearing is closed, the board will discuss the application and vote to approve the permit as requested, approve the permit with conditions, deny the request or continue the request to another meeting.
At the commissionersí July 5 meeting, Chairman Chad Mitchell said the board will recess if the hearing goes past 10 p.m.
The general criteria for all conditional use permit requests include that the proposed use will not create significant visual impacts for adjoining properties or passersby, detract significantly from the character of the area or result in hazardous safety conditions.
On July 6, commissioners denied a motion by the citizensí group to dismiss the application after a quasi-judicial hearing.
The group argued that the May 2010 permit application deals with the same issues and decisions as the one previously denied by the board in November 2005. But commissioners said the changes are significant enough to warrant a new hearing.
Adjoining property owners Maurice and Mary Parker have been added as parties to the request, because a portion of the proposed fall zone for the tower would be on their land.
The new application alters the site plan, land mass, fall zone, setbacks, tower engineering and design and number of bays. It also reduces the tower height by 150 feet.
After 14 hours of testimony in two days, the board decided in 2005 that a 1,350-foot tower on the Parkersí property would present a safety hazard to a nearby private airstrip, Miller Airpark.
The only sitting commissioners on the board at the time were current Chairman Chad Mitchell, who voted to deny the permit, and Jim Sides, who cast the lone dissenting vote.
Hilton appealed the countyís decision, but a three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals upheld the denial in September 2007, and so did the N.C. Supreme Court.
In its new application, Davidson County Broadcasting says evidence and expert testimony will show that the tower would not create hazardous traffic or air safety conditions.
The company says it wants to build the new tower to increase the coverage area of its WWLV station in Lexington, serve more people and reduce interference.

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