The Board of Supervisors called on South Riding residents’ desire for a telecommunication monopole in their neighborhood, though the Planning Commission recommended against the approval.
“We have a community who wants it, and we’re telling them no,” said Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) at Monday’s board meeting, adding that South Riding does not have any five-story buildings where an antennae could be installed. “South Riding doesn’t have the opportunity to get these facilities.”
Community Wireless Structures of Falls Church applied for a special exception for a 164-foot monopole with a five-foot lightning rod. The monopole is proposed for a 92-acre site near Braddock Road, or Route 620, and Bull Run Post Office Road, or Route 621, in an area designated for low-density residential development. The Planning Commission voted March 8 to recommend the board deny the special exemption, since the location does not conform with the low-density residential policies of the revised General Plan and the Telecommunications Plan, two county planning documents. The plans recommend telecommunication facilities be located in industrial and commercial areas. County staff reported that the preferred locations were not available.
“We ought to support this [for] a community who wants this,” said Supervisor Drew Hiatt, adding that cellular phones are no longer a luxury and now are a convenience and in some cases a necessity. “They are a fact of modern life if you want to have a modern telecommunications system.”
The board voted 5-4 in favor of the motion.
IN OTHER BUSINESS:
* The Board of Supervisors voted 9-0 to draft an ordinance regulating open video systems (OVS), a class of video provider identified in the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act. OVS’s are less regulated than traditional cable operators, since they allow two-thirds of their channel capacity for outside programming.
The county’s cable ordinance does not address OVS’s, though several firms have begun operating OVS’s in new residential developments.
OVS providers are allowed to use public right-of-ways without having to pay the fees required of cable operators. The board set the OVS fee at $25,000 with a refund or additional charges added to meet the actual costs. The fee is capped at $50,000.
* The board approved 7-2 amending the Facility Standards Manual, one of the county ordinances addressing site development standards. The amendment establishes the criteria for technical and land development applications, requiring a raise in land development fees.
The regulations update will occur in two phases. The board adopted the first phase at the board meeting and directed staff to prepare amendments for the second phase.
* The board voted 7-2 in favor of amending the land development applications fee schedule. The schedule was updated to the Facilities Standards Manual amendments, while reflecting the amount of time spent on plan review and supporting new position costs. Five additional positions are required to implement the Facilities Standards Manual amendments.
“It recovers the cost of reviewing applications,” said Supervisor Mark Herring (D-Leesburg). “Over time, the fee structure stayed the same and the fees didn’t keep pace with growth, so taxpayers subsidized [the fees].”
* The board will take a recess in August, when business meetings, committee meetings and the public hearing will be canceled.