Both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustments this week voted in favor of a special use permit for construction of a new tower in the area of Coleman Park. This approval, which should improve cellular service, hinges on the applicant meeting a few additional stipulations.
A special use permit request was made to the city by the property owner on behalf of AT&T for construction of a 150-foot self-supporting cell tower with 6 foot lightning rod at 1212 West Industrial Dr. (683 Gosset Lane). This 0.36-acre site is directly west of the Coleman Lake water tower.
Brent Dozier, representing the group contracted by AT&T to see about 100 towers built on sites across Texas, noted that the site was selected in response to numerous calls received in the last 3-4 years from citizens, businesses and emergency responders. The chief complaint is little or no cellular service and dropped calls. This area is notorious for heavy data usage. Tin and pine trees in East Texas are the two biggest enemies of cellular communications and radar signals.
The city currently has 4 cellular towers:
- A 200 foot tower located in the heavy industrial zone, near commercial and industrial businesses. It is on Kirksey Street, 1.9 miles northeast of the proposed Gossett Lane site. This tower was installed with a special use permit in 1999.
- A 350-foot tower in the heavy industrial and light commercially zoned area on McKinsey Drive, located 4 miles northeast of the proposed site, installed before special use permits were required for the cell towers.
- A tower 950 feet south of Wildcat Way, off Holiday Drive, about 1.9 miles southeast of the proposed site on land included in the annex of properties along Wildcat Way into the city, in a single family-6 zone; and
- A tower in the 1200 block of Jefferson Street, 3.6 miles from the proposed site, in an undeveloped light industrial zone, approved in 2019.
Letters were sent to the two property owners within 200 feet of the property. The City of Sulphur Springs received 1 letter from the property owner in favor of the tower.
Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport Director Joey Baker objected to the request. As proposed, it’s location 2.25-2.5 miles south of the airport is within the flight path of the airport and exceeds the airspace flight path by 15 feet. This according to an FAA study. Sulphur Springs Director of Community Development Tory Niewiadomski told the Planning an Zoning Commission Monday and the Zoning Board of Adjustments on Tuesday that Baker would have no objection if the tower height were reduced by 15 feet.
Niewiadomski said city staff recommended the request either be denied outright due to the potential impact to the city’s airspace or approved with the stipulation the cell tower is reduced 15 feet in overall height to 141 feet.
Dozier said the original plan was for the tower to be 190 feet, but had reduced plans to 156 due to FAA feedback. While the taller height is preferred, the group he represents would not be opposed to reducing the height to 141 feet if doing so would allow the project to move forward.
The P&Z Commission considered the matter at their monthly meeting Monday night. They recommended approval of the 141 ft tower project to the ZBA, which also voted in favor of the special use permit.