Couple ‘worried sick’ about new cell phone tower

A Belington couple is distraught about the possibility of a cell tower being constructed approximately 275 feet from the corner of their home – and the city’s zoning board of appeals will meet tonight to consider the issue.

Richard and Nancy Snider initially spoke with Belington City Council members March 28 about their opposition to the erection of the tower.

During the March 28 meeting, building permit inspector Don Harris said Mark Riggleman re-applied for a building permit to erect the tower on March 13, because the prior permit had expired. Harris said the permit request is for a 190-foot tower with 12 panel antennas. He said there would also be an 11-foot equipment building alongside the tower.

“The Riggleman property is a ‘B’ Zone and I checked with the regulations,” Harris said. “On page 13, section 12, it states that construction heights are not to exceed 80 feet. This structure is 190 feet, so it must be denied. The petitioners may ask to have the decision sent to the board of zoning appeals.”

Harris also said the regulations state that towers and antennas shall not invade adjoining property.

Council members voted unanimously to deny the building permit for Riggleman in March and to transfer the matter to the board of zoning appeals.

The zoning board of appeals will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Belington City Hall to hear the matter. Verizon Wireless is proposing placing an 11-foot-by-30-foot equipment shelter and an internal diesel generator at the base of the structure inside a fenced compound.

Richard Snider said if Riggleman wants to get the money for the tower, he should put the tower by his house.

“We have worked all of our lives to build this house,” Nancy Snider said. “This is the first house we have ever built. Dick talked to a realtor and asked what the proposed tower would do to the value of our home. He would not give a percentage of how much it would decrease the value of our home, but said it definitely would not help with the value. Who would want to buy it with that? We built this home four years ago because it is quiet and peaceful. This is going to destroy our property and we are worried sick about it.”

Richard Snider also said he wasn’t aware of the tower’s placement until his house was almost completed.

“We did not know they were considering placing this tower this close to our property until our home was under roof,” Dick Snider said. “There was no turning back then.”

The Sniders said they are hopeful the issue will be resolved to benefit all concerned.

“If the tower would fall, it would not miss us by much,” Nancy Snider said. “Only two people on the zoning board of appeals came out to look at the property to see where the proposed compound will be located in relation to our home.”

Emails and phone calls to Verizon’s attorney, Jeff Kimble, were not returned by presstime.

Anyone interested in the zoning board of appeals’ hearing regarding the proposed cell tower is welcome to attend the meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Belington City Hall.