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Wireless tower gets approved by city commission

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A major telecommunications company has received permission to build a new tower in northeast Roswell, although the property chosen is not large enough to meet zoning requirements.

The Roswell Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-0 Tuesday night to grant a variance to a company representing Verizon so that a 70-foot tower can be built on a vacant lot at 111 E. Berrendo Road near the Motel 6 hotel.

“The request for the variance is because we are siting our wireless communications on a smaller parcel that doesn’t quite meet the zoning ordinances of setbacks of 110 percent of the height of tower,” said Allen Potter of Romano Associates of Albuquerque. “This location at this intersection is important to us.”

He explained that the site is critical in relation to two other Verizon towers in the area to guard against coverage gaps. He also noted that the company had looked for, but could not find, better alternatives while also meeting city codes.

No opposition to the project was voiced at the meeting. City staff, which recommended the variance, also said that none of the neighboring property owners that had been notified about the variance request and tower project prior to the meeting had made any objections.

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“Much earlier in my career I probably would have been a lot more negative toward these things. Of course, we were looking at a time when the towers in my world were 165 feet tall and they were popping up everywhere,” said Community Development Manager Bill Morris. “I think what we are looking at is there is a changing environment with the respect for the need for more bandwidth and making sure that we have the communications links that we need.”

He and City Engineer Louis Najar also said that the structural engineering for the tower and the foundation is sound, lessening the likelihood of the tower falling. They also noted that the tower will not hit any homes or buildings if it does fall. The applicant’s documents also indicate that an 8-foot concrete wall will be built around the base of the tower.

According to Potter, the required setbacks from property lines are met to the south and to the east and northeast when the alley or 25-foot city right-of-way is included. No problems are expected regarding the setback to the west, Potter said, because that property, where the Motel 6 is located, is owned by Roswell Hospitality LLC of Texas, the same group that has leased the vacant lot to Verizon for the tower.