Cell tower construction worries some Washington Twp. residents

As construction continues on a 100-foot-tall cell tower in Washington Twp., some neighbors are concerned about how it will affect their properties.

Township officials said that WireNet is the contractor for the tower, which is under construction at 398 W. Social Row Rd. It could be completed in the next week.

“It’s a monopole tower located on private property,” said Ryan Lee, development director of the township.

WireNet is one of many contractors taking advantage of the widespread use of cell phones to construct cell towers in communities across the country.

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Neighbors said they had no idea the tower was coming. They woke up one day and saw construction crews in their neighbor’s yard, they said.

Leslie Walker, a resident for 20 years, said she’s concerned about the possible effect on property values because some consider the tower an eyesore in the neighborhood.

“It’s heartbreaking and it’s sickening,” she said.

Township officials said they can’t contest the tower because the land is zoned as agricultural under Ohio Revised Code and it predates the updated code that allows for more control by the township.

The owner of the property gave the contractor permission to build on the land, and the township was notified last May, officials said.

“Washington Township does not have jurisdiction on this matter,” Lee said. “We have a section of the zoning resolution that addresses telecommunication installations on residentially zoned land and public rights of way.”

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Lee communicated with residents in a correspondence recently to respond to concerns.

“While this particular property does have a single family residence, it is not residentially zoned and does not allow the township to exercise jurisdiction in enforcing zoning provisions,” Lee wrote. “The contractor for the tower contacted the Township Development Services Office in May 2017 to verify that the tower was exempt from zoning control.”

According to the correspondence, amendments were made to allow officials more control on this type of issue in the future, but the changes were made too late to address the tower that is under construction.

“The township zoning resolution was amended to provide controls for telecommunication installations in public rights-of-way and in proximity to abutting residential uses, however, we are unable to utilize these standards as they were adopted after the tower was initiated,” Lee said.

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