By Colleen Mahoney
Horvath Communications will be permitted to erect a cell tower in the town of Great Valley after the Planning Board approved a special use permit on Aug. 10. The approval from the board comes more than a year after it was first approached about the tower.
The approval is conditional upon nine requirements made by the board, which include painting the tower in a light grey or other neutral color, providing a vegetation berm to help hide the tower and including lighting for emergency response helicopters. The requirements were recommended by MDA Engineering president Mark Alianello and town engineer Aaron Tiller.
The tower will be built on Martin Road, on a piece of private property owned by Tim and Debbie Halloran. It is adjacent to land owned by Rick Howard, who has been opposed to the placement of the tower all along.
At the Aug. 10 meeting, Howard voiced concerns about Halloran cutting trees, which could give him an unobstructed view of the tower. After board discussion, Halloran agreed to a prohibition from cutting trees on the relevant portion of his land. This became one of the conditions for the special use permit.
Town Attorney Peter Sorgi explained that the prohibition against cutting trees must take effect immediately, and should be signed by Halloran as well as Howard and Horvath Communications.
The special use permit was approved by a vote of four board members to two. Amy DeTine and Steve Ward voted against the permit.
Jacqueline Phillips Murray, of Murray Law Firm, PLLC, the firm representing Horvath Communications, said she was “very pleased” by the board’s approval.
“This will fill a gap in coverage in this area,” Murray said. “It’s very significant as it benefits not only community communication… but emergency communications too.”
The cell service will be provided by Verizon Communications. The tower will be 70 by 70 feet at the base and 200 feet high. It will be located in a leased area on the Halloran’s property that is 100 by 100 feet. It is surrounded by a two-foot berm with 21 staggered pine trees, which will help reduce the visibility of the tower base.
Murray said it will take some time before the tower can be constructed. Horvath Communications has to bid out the project and get it on a construction schedule before work can begin. Once a construction schedule is established, Murray said the tower can be constructed in as little as eight weeks. She noted it would take “several months” to establish a schedule.