The Montgomery County Transmission Facility Coordination Group, also known as the Tower Committee, approved an increase in the height of the monopole at Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Station 30, on Falls Road at a meeting Jan. 3.
The approval allows for the construction of a new 185-foot monopole with five 21-foot high omni directional antennas at 165 feet and two six-foot microwave dish antennas at 180 feet, according to a press release announcing the change.
Twenty-two tower changes were approved at the meeting, five increasing the towers around the County as part of an ongoing work to increase communication coverage for Montgomery County fire and police.
Also approved and part of the Montgomery County Radio Communications changes was the construction a new 230-foot lattice self-support tower and attaching one six-foot microwave dish antenna at 220 feet, two six-foot microwave dish antennas at 190 feet, two 21-foot-high omni directional antennas at 175 feet and three 21-foot-high omni directional antennas at 150 feet on the property of Bretton Woods, 15700 River Road.
One other tower change in the Potomac area, not related to emergency communications, was a Verizon tower on Falls Road at Aqueduct Road. The Antenna Change Out will remove 12 and add six 72-inch-high panel antennas at 131 feet on a 139-foot water tank. This approval is conditioned on the applicant providing written approval from WSSC of the attachment at the time of permitting.
Residents were invited to a public meeting regarding the increased height of the Station 30 tower last April 25. At that time, Gerry Adcock, manager of Radio Communications Services for the Montgomery County Department of Technology Services, explained the purpose of the higher monopole is to increase communications coverage for county fire and police. It is planned as part of a 22-antenna system throughout the county.
“We already have 11 and are adding 11 more to fill our communication needs,” Adcock said.
He assured the attendees that the monopole would only be used for official communications, not for commercial purposes.
Adcock said he understood objections to the increase but his mandate was to make fire and police communications coverage better.
“This is one of those necessary evils,’ he said. “It’s necessary for public safety.”
Meanwhile, Montgomery County announced Jan. 4 that it is making public its database of Online Requests for Wireless Telecommunications Sitings.
“Beginning today,” the press release read, “the County’s Transmission Facility Coordination Group ("TFCG," also known as the "Tower Committee") website,www.montgomerycountymd.gov/towers, is making available to the public, online 24/365 access to over 3,100 wireless telecommunication siting applications filed by telecom providers dating back to 1996.”
Previously the database of application information could only be reviewed in person by appointment, according to the press release.
Interested residents or business persons will be able to sort and filter applications by type, structure, telecom provider, and dozens of other fields. The TFCG website also has an interactive GIS mapping feature that allows search capabilities for both current and proposed telecommunication facilities, according to the press release.
“This is a natural evolution we are making, consistent with open data,” said Mitsuko Herrera, Montgomery County spokesperson for technology and special projects.
Herrera said the new web feature is part of the county’s move towards more transparency.
“It is helping the public know what the county government does,” she said.
The new data base can be found at http://montgomerycountymd.gov/towers. Click on the Tower locations link for the applications and the map link to activate the interactive GIS mapping feature.