Belington Council fills vacancy on planning commission

Belington City Council met for a brief session Thursday with the goal of filling the last vacancy on the city’s planning commission.

Mayor Bobby King recommended Jerry Phillips for the seat, and he was approved unanimously. Council members present included James Lawrence, Marshall Reed, Max Grove, Richard Cox and Suzanna Skidmore.

Phillips becomes the fifth member of the commission, joining King, Reed, Jean Clark and Eddie Weese.

“The meeting for the city planning commission is 10 a.m. Monday,” King said. “We need to give the commission time to get our recommendation to the zoning board of appeals.”

Following the meeting, King said the commission will receive orientation and perhaps make a recommendation to the zoning board of appeals.

The push to fill the vacancies stems from a dispute over the construction of a Verizon wireless 190-foot cell tower with 12 panel antennas within the Belington city limits.

In March, Don Harris, building permit inspector for Belington, presented council with a permit for construction of the tower, as well as an 11-foot equipment shelter and internal diesel generator at the base of the structure, all inside a fenced compound. During that meeting, Harris recommended denial of the permit, stating that the limit of structures is less than 80 feet within city limits. Council voted to deny the permit under their guidelines and passed the matter to the zoning board of appeals committee, which has the authority to approve a variance.

Homeowners Richard and Nancy Snider oppose the construction of the tower so close to their home. Verizon wireless attorney Jeff Kimble contends the tower is necessary to provide a certain level of coverage by federal permit.

Three members of the Belington zoning board of appeals listened to each side of the debate Aug. 8. Once the newly reformed city planning commission meets it will make a recommendation to the zoning board of appeals, which will then make its final recommendation to Belington City Council.

Alan Coberly, committee chairperson for the zoning board of appeals, said the board has 30 days from the Aug. 8 meeting to make a recommendation to City Council.