Zoning panel to review proposed cell tower

Verizon Wireless customers in the Norman and Kurtz area could soon receive better reception when using their phone or computer.

SBA Communications of Brownsburg recently filed a building permit to erect a 285-foot communication tower in the 1200 block of U.S. 50 West in Owen Township, nearly 290 feet off the highway.

The Jackson County Plan Commission gave a favorable recommendation for the tower during a recent meeting.

Now, it’s up to the county’s board of zoning appeals to discuss the matter and make the final decision. That meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown.

SBA Communications would own the tower. If other tenants besides Verizon need improved coverage in that area, they could put antennas on the structure, SBA representative Nathan Meyer said.

“It’s designed for that. It helps (SBA’s) business

model,” Meyer said. “We’re not trying to build a tower and hope someone will come. We have someone that needs coverage.”

The proposed three-legged steel tower would be on

a 45.07-acre site that is zoned agricultural and is owned by Gary and Eleanor “Elly” Wischmeier.

SBA would lease 10,000 square feet of that property with an 8-foot-tall fence around the tower and a 12-foot-wide access road.

There would be an equipment shelter facility inside the fence, and it would house a backup power generator. American Tower Corp. owns a communication tower a half-mile away in Lawrence County.

Plan commission member Dan Blann asked why Verizon couldn’t just lease space on that tower instead of constructing a new one.

Meyer gave copies of a map to the plan commissioners that shows Verizon’s existing coverage and areas that need improved coverage. Verizon found that leasing space on the ATC tower wouldn’t help coverage in the rural Jackson County communities, so a new tower needs to be built.

Mike Weir, plan commission secretary and county building commissioner, said communication in that area has been an issue for some time. He said the 911 board, of which he is a member, has been trying to work on improved coverage.

“Fire departments and emergency vehicles have a lot of problems with communication down in that area,” Weir said. “I was kind of hoping (construction of a tower) might help that.”

Weir said adjoining property owners of the site have been notified about the possible construction of a tower. On one side, the fence around the tower would be 20 feet from someone’s property line.

Adjoining property owners will be given a chance to voice their opinions on the tower at the BZA meeting.

“My feeling on it is if adjoining landowners are fine with it, by all means I’m fine with it,” Blann said.

If you go

What: Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9

Where: Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown

Why: Discuss the proposed construction of a communications tower in the 1200 block of U.S. 50 West in Owen Township

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.