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Park may get cell tower
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County is considering a plan to allow a cell tower at Sawnee Mountain Park on Watson Road.

Tuesday, Forsyth County commissioners directed parks and recreation staff to organize a community meeting on the plan.

“We’ll gauge the public response based on that meeting and see where we go from there,” said Chairman Charles Laughinghouse.

Wireless Facilities Inc. is seeking a 30-year lease from the county. The county would receive $15,000 per year, with additional revenue possible if other cell phone companies share the tower.

The proposed 180-foot tall structure would resemble a light pole on athletic fields.

Wireless Facilities is pursuing the tower in order to close coverage gaps for several major call phone companies, said representative Steve Watkins.

Jeff Chance, director of the county’s planning department, said a conditional use permit, a third party review of the site and a public hearing are required before the board can make a decision.

“There’s plenty of opportunities the board would have to negotiate,” Chance said.

The county school system recently sought public feedback on the possibility of adding towers on three school campuses.

No decision has been made on the plan, which drew some negative response.

Laughinghouse said the county may want to follow the school board’s lead.

To date, there are 27 towers on county property. They are either owned by the county for its own communication or by outside companies, said Jodi Gardner, county spokeswoman.

Some of the towers are free standing and others are affixed to tall county structures, such as water towers.