Good morning. I hope that you are able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful sunny weather today — it’s hard to believe we are now in June! Speaking for myself, and likely for many others, I have been able to enjoy the outdoors far more this year than ever before. The spectacular weather has presented many gorgeous views of the Piedmont’s landscape.
I wanted to let you know that earlier this year the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) intervened in the application process for a proposed telecommunications tower (tower) in Madison County. Community Wireless Structures (CWS) documented their intent for a 199-foot tower via public notice in December 2019. The tower would be located at 950 S. Blue Ridge Turnpike in Somerset, just north of the Rapidan River along Route 231.
Subsequent to reviewing the application documents associated with the public notice, PEC submitted comments to the applicant’s consultant (EBI Consulting), documenting nearby historic resources that could be impacted, including:
- Madison Barbour Rural Historic District;
- Journey Through Hallowed Ground;
- Route 231 – State-Listed Scenic Byway;
- Somerset Christian Church;
- Tetley Manor;
- Rapidan River;
- and Multiple conservation easements..
Although a few months have passed since submitting our comments, we received word from CWS last week that PEC’s recommendation for lowering the tower’s overall height has been offered as mitigation.
PEC’s intervention led to improvements to the proposed tower, prior to the application being submitted to Madison County, including:
- Lowering the overall tower height by 20-feet, resulting in an overall height reduction from 199-ft to 179-ft (including a 4-ft lighting rod);
- Monopole construction instead of lattice installation;
- and Painting the tower to camouflage its viewshed impacts.
We are excited that these mitigation efforts have been made prior to a Special Use Permit application and public hearing in Madison County. We view these improvements as a success, though we note that it may be possible with the community’s help to achieve additional improvements during the public hearing process. We encourage you to join us in that process, and we will reach back out to you when a formal application is submitted by CWS to Madison County.
In the meantime, PEC will continue discussions with CWS and the Department of Historic Resources (DHR), in order to advocate for a tower that will minimize the disturbance to this historic area.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at any time.
Field Representative – Culpeper, Madison and Orange
The Piedmont Environmental Council
540-347-2334 ext. 7047