Sue Kiesewetter reports:
The possibility of a cellphone tower being constructed near a residential neighborhood here has prompted trustees to look at rezoning some properties.
“I don’t think anybody wants one of those in their back yard,’’ Trustee Tom Farrell said Tuesday during a work session on the matter. “I think we owe it to residents to do what we can to stop it.”
At issue is a cellphone tower Verizon would like to construct off Millikin Road near the Hawthorne Hills subdivision, which is located north of Millikin Road and east of Maud Hughes Road.
Many of the properties in that, and neighboring, subdivisions are zoned agriculture, which allows single-family homes.
That zoning designation also allows cellphone towers as a permitted use, said Jon West, director of planning and zoning.
Trustees decided to rezone subdivision homes now zoned agriculture in an area roughly bordered by Kyles Station, Millikin, Yankee and Ava roads, to a residential zone, which has more restrictions.
That process is expected to be initiated at trustees’ May 21 meeting. Letters to the 276 affected property owners informing them of the process and timeline will be mailed out once a location for the meeting is determined.
But changing the zoning may not prevent construction of a tower. Under Ohio law cellphone towers are considered public utilities and not subject to most zoning laws except in very limited conditions.
Fairfield Township faced a similar situation about four years ago when T-Mobile wanted to build a tower. Trustees did rezone neighboring property but not the property where the cell tower was proposed.
Neighbors sued and lost with the courts ruling in favor of T-Mobile, said Michael Rahall, Fairfield Township’s administrator.
Although T Mobile had permission to build the tower, it was never constructed, Rahall said.
Eric Duritsch lives on Millikin Road and said the proposed tower site is near his property line. He and his wife oppose it.
They went door to door in their neighborhood informing neighbors of the situation.
“We don’t want to see a tower in our back yard,’’ he said.
George Hagedon doesn’t dispute the need for cellphone towers but doesn’t believe the Millikin Road site is the right place for a tower.
“I value the (cell phone) technology, but there are better places for a tower within the township.”
Trustees too, are puzzled by the choice of location. There is already a tower located at Dudley Park, about a half-mile away, which they believe Verizon could use.
Verizon officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.