Wendell cell tower plan hits a snag

08/01/2014 3:13 PM

08/01/2014 3:14 PM

Plans to put a 195-foot cellular telephone tower near the heart of downtown have run into formidable opposition.

Letters opposing construction of the tower on a lot at the corner of Fourth Street and Hollybrook Road from three historic preservation organizations have forced the company that wants to build the tower to explore other options.

The Wendell Historical Society, the Wake County Historical Society and the Capital Area Preservation Society all asked the State Historic Preservation Office to intervene in the matter.

Renee Gladhill-Earley, an environmental review coordinator with the State Historic Preservation Office said she met with consultants for SCI Towers, the company that wants to erect the tower to review the concerns voiced by the local preservation groups.

At that meeting, Gladhill-Earley said, consultants presented pictures of the site taken from historic properties within half a mile of the site. The downtown historic district and the Wendell Boulevard historic district are both within two blocks of the site. Each picture had an image of the tower super-imposed on it. In each of those pictures, Gladhill-Earley said, the tower was visible from the historic properties, which creates an adverse impact on those properties. Gladhill-Earley recommended the company research other sites, which it turns out, had already been done.

Wendell officials and the cell tower company initially favored sites at Wendell Park, but grant funds used to purchase the property forced the town to get permission from Wake County and the federal government which provided the grants.

Those requests were denied.

Whether the cell tower gets built or not, the notion of it has already had an impact. The site was home to the Lake Myra Light Show for the past two years, but town officials have already made plans to move that show to the town square.

Delbert DeMello, who voiced opposition to the tower at a town board meeting a couple months ago, said Wednesday, he was pleased with the turn of events.

“I’m really glad something happened. I really didn’t know what else to do,” said DeMello.

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