Ahead of tomorrow’s planned vote by the Board of Supervisors on AT&T’s proposed Short Hill mountain monopole project, Loudoun’s mayors are continuing raise concerns about the plan and the precedents approval could establish.
In a letter from the Coalition of Loudoun Towns sent the board Sunday, the county’s seven mayors urge supervisors to not overturn the Planning Commission’s vote to deny the commission permit for the project. The commission found the telecommunications project did not comply with the county’s comprehensive plan, which seeks to protect mountainside areas.
COLT cites three concerns: that degrading the mountainside with development could undermine the county’s $413.6 million agro-tourism industry; that the project does not comply with the Zoning Ordinance related to monopoles; and that the project’s limited benefits to the community do not warrant violating longstanding county land-use policies.
“We request that the Board of Supervisors not overturn the Planning Commission’s recommendation for denial of the proposed AT&T monopole on the ridgeline of the Short Hill Mountain,” the mayors wrote. “There are other alternatives that should be evaluated, such as locating shorter towers on either side of Short Hill, allowing a lower structure by removing the requirement that the tower accommodate three carriers, locating on an existing structure elsewhere—and intensifying your ongoing efforts in expanding other broadband and fiber offerings, and more.”
While acknowledging the need to improve broadband service for area residents and first responders, they suggest county leaders continue to develop a more impactful solution, rather than a “quick fix” that would provide only limited gains.
The coalition also criticizes the threat by Sen. John J. Bell (D-13) to have the General Assembly step in to approve the AT&T plan if the county board declines to do so as “highly inappropriate.”
“As government has become more challenging and gridlocked at the state and federal level, local governments continue the daily work to deliver key services to our residents: water, public safety, land use and zoning, multi-modal transportation, and direct community engagement. The decisions at the local level, even more critically—land use decisions—should and must remain separate and distinct from the major issues of state and federal policy,” COLT wrote. “Local governments must be immediately responsive and focused on the local issues. As such, this decision should be made by the local governments and residents directly impacted by the decision.”
The application is on the agenda for the Oct. 5 Board of Supervisors meeting, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.