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Decatur City Commission to consider updated CitySwitch proposal of a 140-foot cell phone tower

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Decatur City Commission to consider updated CitySwitch proposal of a 140-foot cell phone tower

A map showing the proposed location of the cell tower. Image obtained via the city of Decatur.
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Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission will meet on Monday, Nov. 27, for its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a dinner session at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held in person at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street, and virtually via Zoom.

The city commission will consider approving a conditional use permit for a cell phone tower near the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. The commission deferred the application in October, and the planning commission recommended denial of the conditional use permit.

To access the meeting, follow these instructions:

To view the agenda, click here.

This meeting will be held in-person. Members of the public wishing to participate during either the “Public Comment” or “Requests and Petitions” portions of the meeting may attend the meeting in one of two ways:

1. Attend in-person by coming to Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St.

2. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/j/95223629480. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You may also participate by phone by calling (929) 205-6099 and entering the meeting ID (The 11-digit number shown in the Zoom registration link.)

NOTE – This meeting will utilize virtual meeting technology. We cannot guarantee it will operate as planned. If your participation must be a matter of public record, attend the meeting in person or email your comments to City Manager Andrea Arnold at [email protected] by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 27, 2023.

Members of the public may also view the live broadcast of the Decatur City Commission meeting at https://www.decaturga.com/citycommission/page/streaming-video

CitySwitch had proposed constructing a 150-foot telecommunications tower on CSX right-of-way that would be accessed by Maediris Drive. Residents spoke in opposition to the proposal during the planning commission meeting on Oct. 10, and a petition against the tower was submitted to the city with 236 signatures.

In an effort to respond to concerns raised during the planning commission meeting, CitySwitch has proposed lowering the height of the tower from 150 feet with a 10-foot lighting rod to 140 feet with a six-foot lighting rod. The total height of the tower would be 146 feet.

“To that end, CitySwitch and Dish Wireless conducted additional site reconnaissance and drone imagery to determine the lowest feasible height for this tower,” the updated application states. “The revisions to tower height and lightning rod size results in a total overall height reduction by 14’ as shown on the Zoning Drawings (Exhibit B).”

Concerns from neighbors included the resilience of the tower during extreme weather events or a catastrophic failure, and the possibility of it falling on nearby buildings due to a reduced setback distance. There were also concerns over the impact of radio waves on the health of individuals living nearby, the need for a sizable vegetative buffer zone around the tower, and the potential installation of a generator that would emit noise in the community.

The application from CitySwitch to build the tower would be on land in the CSX railroad right of way and would involve a modification of setback limits from the property line and a modification to the landscape buffer requirements, according to the Planning Commission’s staff report.

In other business:

– The city commission will consider approving an alcoholic beverage license for Guru Restaurant and Bar, a new restaurant opening in the Cortland Decatur East mixed-use project. It will be located in a retail space next to the vehicular courtyard. The establishment is seeking an alcoholic beverage license for beer and wine beverages, and spirituous liquor beverages for consumption on premises, Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill wrote in a memo.

— The city commission will consider approving a change order in the amount of $15,510 and an increase in the contract amount to $186,690 with AECOM for a transportation study and traffic-calming design for a portion of North Decatur Road.

“AECOM’s scope for re-visioning North Decatur Road includes project management and oversight, a traffic study of existing conditions and future traffic estimates, community engagement, including open houses/workshops, development of alternative concepts and cost estimates, and the final design recommendation,” Assistant City Manager Cara Scharer wrote in a memo.

About one mile of the study area is in unincorporated DeKalb County. The city anticipates the concept phase to last about eight months. The city and DeKalb County also plan to hold another public workshop in January to discuss the findings of the transportation study, community engagement process, and share the traffic-calming recommendations and proposed next steps.

– The city commission will consider approving the phase I traffic-calming plan for Coventry Road between Scott Boulevard and city limits.

“Working to provide accessible residential streets that are safe, comfortable, and community-friendly while accommodating the needs of all users, the recommended Phase 1 improvements propose the following improvements from the city limits to Scott Boulevard: lane narrowing, modification of one existing speed hump to a speed table, two raised crosswalks, realignment of the intersections at Chelsea Drive and Kathryn Avenue so they are perpendicular with Coventry Road, and on-street parking laid out in a chicane pattern, which is a lane shift or deflection technique to encourage drivers to slow down,” Scharer said.

A new sidewalk is also proposed on the north side of the street between the city limits and North Parkwood Road.

Writer Anila Yoganathan contributed to this article.

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