A cell phone tower and a fueling station occupied the Warren County Zoning Hearing Board on Wednesday, when it met for the first time in 2014.
The board took the opportunity to elect officers before holding two public hearings, one for a proposed communication tower and the other for a change of approved location for a fueling station at Warren Commons.
Board members Lee Curtis, Ed Atwood, Steve Brown and Dave Miller were in attendance, Patrick Soliday was absent. The board elected Brown as chairman and Curtis as vice chairman. Both votes were unanimous.
Board members then moved on to the first public hearing, a request for approval of a communications tower for Verizon Wireless, with an exception to a landscaping requirement.
Representatives of Wireless Resources, the actual applicant on behalf of Verizon, were in attendance.
The proposed structure would be a free-standing tower, with no guide-lines on a 100-foot-by-100-foot site. The actual tower and accompanying structures would be surrounded by an eight-foot fence which will remain locked when the tower is not being accessed. The site would sit on a leased, one-quarter acre plot of land at 817 Humphreys Corners Rd., Bear Lake. The area is currently zoned as an ACR (agriculture, conservation, recreation) district.
Wireless Resources representatives noted Verizon has received Federal Aviation Administration approval for the tower plans and has been issued a building permit by Columbus Township.
Along with the approval, an exception to a requirement for landscaping in the zoning ordinance was requested. The ordinance requires landscaping be installed around communication towers to shield the base of the tower from view. Wireless Resources requested an exception based on the tower being situated in a wooded area, which would shield the tower from view without installation of landscaping. Representatives of the company argued complying with the landscaping would necessitate removing existing trees and vegetation to install new landscaping to accomplish what the existing vegetation already does.
The board approved the request with landscaping exception unanimously.
The second hearing before the board was a request on behalf of Walmart Stores Inc. to move the location approved for installation of fueling stations at the Walmart in North Warren.
The original, approved development plan had included a site for a fueling station; Walmart's request was only for a change of location.
The new station location would remain within the existing bounds of the development.
Daryl Terella, with Passport Realty of Erie, appeared on behalf of Walmart and said the change was being requested because the previously approved site for the station, near Burger King, is being proposed as a location for a Taco Bell restaurant.
The change would reduce parking at the site from over 1,000 spaces to between 900 and 1,000, a number still within legal requirements.
Representatives of the North Warren Municipal Authority attended the hearing to ease concerns over possible contamination of the water supply. Authority member Rusty Van Epps noted cisterns are located within 600 yards of the proposed site and asked for assurances as to protection of the water supply. Wal-Mart's original development plan for the site provided such assurances. Van Epps said he wanted to bring the issue before the board so that the concerns were on record in anticipation of the permitting process for the proposed station.
The board approved the requested change unanimously.