Residents of Elon, VA gathered at a public hearing last week to oppose a planned 195-foot tall Verizon Wireless tower, reported The News & Advance. According to Verizon, with 64 percent of Virginia’s rural population lacking access to broadband, the tower would boost coverage in the Elon area.
Concerns over the project included obstruction to scenic views of Tobacco Row Mountain and the tower negatively affecting land values. Residents consider the area “God’s country,” chose their homes because of the view, and don’t want to sacrifice it for better connectivity.
All but one member of the Amherst County Board of Supervisors voted against the project, with the Chairwoman voting in favor. Chairwoman Claudia Tucker said she had felt strongly about boosting broadband in rural areas, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and the matter of increased distance learning.
Tucker added that she has one of the best views in the county of Panther Mountain, and she accepts a cell tower as part of it. “I’m thankful I have access to broadband,” she said, adding that she’s grateful that she could quickly dial 911 on her cell phone in case of emergency.
Lori Schweller, an attorney representing Verizon, said her research shows that more wireless would improve overall property values. Wireless is the second most important factor people look for when searching for homes, second only to good hospitals, she told supervisors.
Many residents and officials are clamoring for an alternative site for the tower. “Tobacco Row Mountain…[is] something I think we should protect and preserve,” District 4 Supervisor David Pugh said. “That’s a reason people move here.”
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