Planning Commission denies Foresite/Verizon’s request for cell tower in Stiefelmeyer Park neighborhood

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CULLMAN – The Cullman City Planning Commission on Monday evening unanimously denied Foresite/Verizon Wireless' request to build a 120-foot, monopole design cell tower on Meadowview Circle in the Stiefelmeyer Park neighborhood in northeast Cullman.

The cell tower proposal sparked fierce opposition from some, especially those in the neighborhood, which is zoned R-1, Residential. Opponents argued that the construction of a cell tower should not be allowed in a residential area, and that allowing it would set a precedent for future encroachment in residential areas.

Verizon and others disagreed.

"Under the Cullman zoning ordinance, we are a utility; that is a permitted use in an R-1 district," said attorney Andy Rotenstreich, representing Foresite/Verizon. "The Alabama Public Service Commission's definition of a utility includes the provision for telephone services. And, under their definition, we are leasing property for the transmission to the public of telephone services."

Rotenstreich spoke at length to the many gathered at Monday's meeting, explaining that the increase in wireless usage in the area, especially around Third Avenue, has led to a capacity issue, allegedly impacting service.

"The real issue we have with it is that we feel it's a commercial use in an R-1 zoning district," said City of Cullman Director of Building, Planning, Zoning Rick Fulmer. "Andy has made the argument that they're a utility. I guess the determination has to come whether or not they are a utility and exempt from the commercial use regulation. There are multiple carriers on this tower. The tower does not belong directly to a utility. It's a leased tower. So the decision hinges on whether or not you want to consider them a utility or you want to consider them a commercial use in a residential district."

The commission chose the latter, considering the tower a commercial use.

Leading up to tonight's meeting, a Facebook group titled "Cullman Residential Neighborhoods AGAINST Cell Towers," was created, with 191 members as of Monday.

See the full planning commission meeting here:

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