City P&Z denies cellphone tower

Residents of Apple Lane area voice opposition to 124-foot-tall structure in neighborhood

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
Midlothian City Hall.

A planned communication tower along Apple Lane took up the majority of the time during the Midlothian Planning and Zoning Commission’s May 18 meeting.

The tower, located on a 3-acre property at 751 Apple Lane, was denied by the commission after several nearby residents spoke in opposition. City planning director Trenton Robertson said the reasons for the staff recommendation of denial was because the tower was planned for an area that already contains residences and is contrary to the “country module” under the city’s comprehensive plan.

The property is currently zoned Agricultural, which forbids the use of towers of this type, but can be rezoned to a planned development if the property is greater than 3 acres in size and a specific-use permit can be granted, Robertson said.

The proposed self-supporting tower is 124 feet in height and is surrounded by a screening fence with landscaping to cover up view of the equipment at the tower’s base. Robertson said the tower meets all the setback requirements for its planned height.

The tower would be used for cellphone communication by AT&T Wireless and would improve coverage along the highly-trafficked FM 663, according to maps provided by applicant representative Steve Woody of Avadim Technologies.

An existing tower to the south of the site is at capacity and cannot be used by AT&T, Woody told commissioners. Three alternative sites on nearby commercial properties were explored by AT&T and would not provide the desired coverage, he added.

Woody said AT&T is planning for the future and the tower would allow it to serve the community as it grows, with 5G technology as well as the FirstNet service designed for public safety.

Echoing staff’s concerns, P&Z chairman Maurice Osborn said his major concern is that while towers have been built before with residences being built nearby later, this proposed tower was planned to be built with longtime residents already present.

Other items

• An ordinance was approved amending and restating in its entirety an urban village planned development at 101 South 3rd Street. The property recently changed hands and the plan was changed to allow for six diagonal parking spots on 3rd Street, which will relieve the situation of customers parking on Main Street. A 40-foot easement was granted along 3rd Street to the corner of Main Street. The location contains professional offices and a walk-up ice cream shop.

• A preliminary plat of a 55.567-acre property to be known as Shady Valley was approved. The property is generally located at the intersection of Mount Zion Road and Ledgestone Lane. Robertson said there are 115 residential lots and 10 common lots in the development plan.

• The commission approved minutes from the March 16 and April 20 meetings.

• Robertson said the next P&Z workshop will be held before the next commission meeting in June at 5 p.m.