Letter: ‘Frustrating’ cell tower meeting

The Jan. 17 Rappahannock County Planning Commission meeting was exceedingly frustrating to witness. We recognize that outcomes will not always be in our favor. We do, however, expect that the process will be fair and thorough; both of which we feel were lacking during this meeting.

First, the commission received new information from AT&T in the hours before the meeting. Though AT&T skimmed over these materials during a brief presentation, the public did not have a chance to review them ahead of time. The commissioners did not respond to numerous requests to postpone their decision until the community had the opportunity to evaluate the additions to AT&T’s application. Public input obviously is not sought nor valued if the public is not given the chance to consider pertinent information.

Second, in response to our inquiry whether eight-foot platforms at the top of the cell towers could be used instead of the proposed 12-foot platforms, AT&T replied that eight-foot towers might be a possible concession. These smaller platforms would reduce the mass at the top of the cell towers, thereby somewhat reducing the visual impact.

However, with the exception of Gary Light, the commissioners were not willing to investigate the feasibility of eight-foot platforms under the premise that they did not want to “micromanage” AT&T. During the meeting, several commissioners commiserated with Woodward Road residents’ complaints that the cell tower would be an obtrusive eyesore in an otherwise pristine setting. Those sentiments now feel rather insincere given the planning commission disregarding a possible way to lessen the cell tower’s silhouette against our rural landscape.

We thank commissioner Light for advocating during the meeting that the public be given time to review all information and that eight-foot platforms be researched. We remain quite dismayed that he stood alone on both of these issues.

Ashley and Jamie Matthews

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