The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Wednesday, August 26, 1998
Radio silence?

Short of towers, county emergency workers lose contact in parts of south Fayette

Staff Writer

Fayette public safety workers have the same problem with their radios that cell phone users have in the southern part of the county. There are dead spots where communication is interrupted.

"Yes, there are spots here and there in the south end of the county and along the western border," said Cheryl Rogers, director of the county's E911 communications center.

Lee Wright, who builds cell towers in the area and leases space on them for cellular phones as well as for emergency radio antennae, told the Fayette Planning Commission last week that the current moratorium on cell towers is holding up plans to improve that situation.

"There is no access for the new [Starr's Mill] schools," said Wright.

"If a firefighter goes into the school, he loses communication at various places within the school," he added.

The commission is working with cellular phone companies to develop a master plan for towers in the county in efforts to have as few as possible and to make them as unobtrusive as possible.

Meanwhile, the County Commission has imposed a moratorium on future tower permit applications, and the Planning Commission has tabled four requests for tower permits until October.

Commission member Al Gilbert expressed alarm. "I know if I had children in that school I would be concerned," he said, adding that the group should consider lifting the moratorium for at least one tower to help solve that problem.

"Additional tower coverage would help with the problem," said Rogers. County Sheriff's deputies, firefighters and emergency medical workers must rely on signals from a single 500-foot tower at McDonough Road and Volunteer Way in Fayetteville, she said.

The Planning Commission will continue the discussion at its Sept. 17 meeting.

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