Beavercreek neighbors oppose decision on tornado-damaged cell tower

An example of another lattice-style cell tower in Beavercreek. CONTRIBUTED / Monica Donohoo
An example of another lattice-style cell tower in Beavercreek. CONTRIBUTED / Monica Donohoo

A group of Beavercreek neighbors heavily affected by the Memorial Day tornado was disappointed by the city’s decision to allow the rebuilding of a damaged cell tower.

During a regular Beavercreek City Council meeting last week, a group of neighbors from near the western end of Graham Drive presented their case against a Beavercreek Board of Zoning Appeals decision. Council heard the appeal, but in the end voted to uphold the BZA’s decision in favor of letting American Tower Corp. rebuild the same structure that was destroyed in May.

Randy Bryan said he looks at the fallen tower directly outside of his home’s back window. Trees that once covered a lower portion of the 164-foot tower were devastated during the tornadoes.

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“The main thing I want to ask council is to look at it like we have to look at it,” Bryan said. “If you’ve been through our neighborhood, most of the trees are gone.”

He said he has put about $10,000 in upgrading his landscaping and home, and he knows other neighbors who have done the same.

“So what I’m asking is that the cell tower put a little bit more of their money into making a tower that we could all like,” Bryan said. “We have to live with it everyday, we have to look out our backdoor and look at it. … All I’m asking for council to do is stick with the zoning that was intended to make the Beavercreek-area and neighborhood areas look better.”

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Although the council’s decision was not what many of the neighbors were hoping, Monica Donohoo, resident who co-signed on the appeal to the council, said she is glad they gave it their best shot.

“I never used to participate in these things either, but now I feel like I need to,” Donohoo said. “You don’t think something is right, you feel like you need to do something. I thought I couldn’t make a difference but after this process I realized can.”

At a BZA meeting in November, the board voted 3-1 to approve a variance for American Tower to rebuild. American Tower needed to get the BZA’s permission to rebuild the same lattice structure because the city’s ordinance now requires a monopole tower.

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Neighbors voiced their opinion that a monopole would look aesthetically much better than the previous structure.

American Tower said costs for constructing a monopole from scratch exceed $100,000, according to its project manager. The company also said a complete soil evaluation would be necessary, as a new foundation would be necessary for the monopole.

“American Tower’s insurance policy will cover only up to the value of the asset that was lost, resulting in a substantial out-of-pocket expense for American Tower in order to build a monopole as the asset lost was self-supporting,” according to a statement from American Tower.

When questioned by Vice Mayor Joanna Garcia, American Tower representative Greg Wagner said he did not think the community would be at a technological disadvantage with the lattice-style cell tower.

“I think it goes back to some of things that we’ve done as a city and some of the things the BZA has already allowed to stand. … They’ve allowed companies to go back to the old buildings under prior zoning and they’ve worked with them on these certain things. To me it’s keeping things in uniform with what we’ve done already.”