Bridge Littleton, mayor of the Town of Middleburg, urged the Loudoun County School Board to reject a proposed 185-foot telecommunications tower proposal in a letter sent hours ahead of the board’s public hearing Tuesday.
The school board is set to hear public comments Tuesday evening about the tower, which plans indicate is to be located at Mickie Gordon Memorial Park, which the school division owns.
Milestone Towers, the contractor listed for the project, is proposing to place a monopole cell tower — a communication tower consisting of a single pole, constructed without tension cables or ground anchors — at 23229 Carters Farm Lane in Middleburg, according to a May 10 school staff report.
AT&T will be the first wireless carrier to locate on the proposed monopole and there will be space for additional wireless providers.
Despite the ongoing need to improve telecommunications in western Loudoun, opposition of the proposed tower has proliferated.
In a May 25 letter to school board members and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Littleton said he opposed the proposed tower based on its size and its proximity to Route 50.
Littleton said the height of the proposed cell tower is 185-feet, which is 60-feet higher than the average cell tower. He also noted the tower is 100-feet higher than the surrounding trees.
"This is substantially taller than what we are used to," he said to the Times-Mirror.
Childs Burden, a resident of Middleburg, wrote to the school board that he was also opposed to the size.
“The proposed tower at 185 feet will negatively impact the visual attractiveness to the entrance to Middleburg which is a major heritage tourism asset for the entire county,” Burden wrote. “It is in your power to mitigate the negative impact. Please do it!”
Littleton said the only area lacking cell coverage along that route is about half a mile west of Aldie, however, according to the coverage map, the proposed tower doesn't even cover that zone.
In the letter to the school board, Littleton said he believes that the board members "would be ill advised to approve this application” until further work can be done to fully understand where the best site is for a future tower.
“We fully understand the need for connectivity and access to good infrastructure, but it must always be tempered in a way which balances the services it provides with the adverse effects it has on those living in that community,” the letter reads.
On May 4, the board’s finance committee voted 2-0-1 to recommend the proposal for board approval. School Board Member Jeff Morse (Dulles District) was absent for the vote.
The board meeting begins at 5 p.m. Public comment starts at 6:30 p.m.
If the board approves the proposal during the scheduled June 8 meeting, Milestone Towers must also obtain the required land use approvals and permits from the county.
Loudoun County Public Schools acquired the land in the 1950s as a planned school facility site, according to Wayde Byard, spokesman for the school division.
The finance committee is expected to take up Milestone’s second 155-foot cell tower project at Stone Bridge High School at a future meeting after it was removed from the agenda of the April 14 meeting.