Residents in Fairhope, AL are upset with a 190-foot tall tower that rises above their homes in the Hollowbrook subdivision. The Gulf Coast News reported that the structure sits on a parcel of land off Highway 181. The tower site is on unzoned, unrestricted land in the county’s jurisdiction, and local officials say they don’t have control over it.
Construction began on the tower last week, according to Fairhope Building Director Eric Cortinas. The project was proposed last fall to improve cell reception in the area, but officials realized it would upset some property owners.
“We knew it was going to be a hot topic, so we crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’,” Cortinas said. “We required them to give us a copy of their FCC tower certification and license showing that it could be there. We had them give us a ‘no hazard to navigation’ letter from the FAA.”
He added, “They gave us their engineering to verify 160-mile-an-hour wind load, and we asked them to also send it out for a second opinion, and we got that. It is one of those issues where it is on unzoned property, and there are no land-use restrictions, so we issued the permit.”
Cortinas said that since construction began, officials have been receiving calls from Hollowbrok residents complaining about the tower. He added that another grievance from neighbors is around poor cell reception, so he’s hopeful a “silver lining” will come out of the project.
Mayor Sherry Sullivan said she appreciates the concerns of residents. “I would not want to sit on my back porch and look over my privacy fence and see a 190-foot monopole, and they probably didn’t realize that was unzoned county property, but unfortunately, it was,” she said.
Sullivan added that county zoning could control structures like a tower, but residents need to begin the process. She said that creating zoning needs to be “citizen-driven” and that both her staff and county planning staff are poised to help residents facilitate the process.
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