Council might pass

on cell tower vote

By PHILIP MOULDEN

Daily Journal

Tupelo City Council members indicated Monday they may send back to the planning committee a businessman's request to erect a 165-foot telecommunications tower off West Main Street near Thomas Street.

The builder apparently wants to propose a change that might be more acceptable to neighbors and council members.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. today in their chambers on the second floor of the new City Hall, 71 E. Tory St.

The planning committee last month approved the tower, which could hold antennas for several cell-phone companies. An adjacent property owner appealed and a majority of council members voiced opposition, contending the structure would be unsightly and hurt area property values.

Planning committee chairman Russ Wilson suggested the proposal be sent back to his panel during a council work session Monday, adding the applicant intended to submit a revised plan to build a "stealth facility" that would be less noticeable.

Wilson said the new tower might look like a large flag pole, including a flag, with the cell phone antennas hidden inside. Finding another site for the tower would be less feasible, Wilson said.

Tower builder Rick Beasley told the planning committee last month the tower's location was virtually mandated by service area needs and restrictions on towers posed by the nearby airport and the Natchez Trace. Finding suitable locations where there are no objections is difficult, Wilson said.

"The easy ones are out of the way," he said of cell towers. "The ones that don't have much impact are already in place."

But council President Danny Barrows said Beasley had other site options, "just at a higher cost."

"So we're not painting him into a corner," Barrows said. "We realize he's in the business of building towers."

In other action, the council is expected to give final approval to a 20 percent increase in water and sewer rates to fund a new waste water treatment plant and other system improvements.

The city plans to borrow $26.6 million through a state revolving loan fund to pay for the facilities. The loan would carry a 1.75 percent interest rate and no payments would be made until the work is completed in about five years, officials said.

The council also will be asked to approve a list of appointments to a new city bi-racial committee.

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