The Kansas community of Derby has denied a request from AT&T to construct a 235-foot cell tower in the High Park section of the city, reports The Derby Informer. City Planner Scott Knebel noted that the Derby Planning Commission received numerous letters from residents, both supporting and opposing the proposal. In its response, the city rejected the application on the grounds that a cell tower would be a commercial venture, which would put it in violation of the city’s special use codes.
“The commercial use proposed for the property would negatively impact the ability of the subject property to be developed for residential uses permitted by its current zone,” stated Knebel. He added that there were additional concerns, like service to/from an area and potential infringement on FAA space. Knebel also pondered why additional locations were not considered.
Glen Locke of Network Real Estate LLC , speaking on behalf of AT&T in his capacity as a site acquisitions agent, commented that the site selected matched up with Derby coverage maps showing underserved areas. “A&T’s coverage is pretty insufficient at this point,” Locke said. “This particular site is designed to cover the majority of Derby. We’re trying to provide better coverage for the customers AT&T has in the area.” The proximity to the city was one of the points that made the proposed tower a desirable property.
At a public hearing, residents showed up to express their concerns, with many voices raised against the proposal:
- “If this goes up,” resident Randy Megli told the Informer, “seriously, my house would be better off burning down than me trying to live there and sell it later.” Megli added that he would not have purchased his house if the “monstrosity” already occupied the proposed site.
- “My fear is we’re going to put this tower up and that’s going to destroy the livelihood of all these animals out there,” said Brian Simpson.
- Resident Michael Beyer added, “You may be getting better service from AT&T from the location they’ve picked, but you’re going to directly impact my personal property and the value of my property.”
Representatives from the local government provided negative attitudes towards the cell tower plan as well. “We’re very concerned about being able to use this premier regional park in the way that it has been used for years now and is intended to be used in the future,” said City Manager Kathy Sexton. Commissioner Dana Quigley backed up Sexton, saying that home financing in that area could also suffer from decreased current property values stemming from the presence of a nearby cell tower.
Although Derby Planning Commission member Jessica Rhein said that the major objection was a zoning issue, she joined other officials in disapproving the conditional use permit that would allow construction to begin. The vote against the tower proposal was unanimous. No further action will be taken unless AT&T appeals the decision, according to the Informer.