AT&T Maintains Short Hill Tower Would Improve Service

AT&T representatives defended preliminary plans for a 155-foot cell tower on top of Short Hill Mountain at an open-house meeting at the Lovettsville Game Protective Association Thursday, May 10.

Representatives from law and engineering firms representing the company faced questions from people living around the mountain, including whether the tower would actually serve private citizens and everyday customers.

“If you have AT&T, this tower is going to be for you,” said attorney Greg Rapisarda, from the firm Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP. “…It’s voice, it’s data, it’s being able to stream things, things like that.”

AT&T’s representatives at the meeting could not provide the number of AT&T customers in the area. Unlike the company’s controversial previous application to build a 35-foot-high, 160,000-square-foot aboveground facility on top of its already-existing underground facility on that site, no AT&T employees were at the public meeting.

Rapisarda said the 155-foot proposed height of the tower is a starting point, which AT&T’s engineers calculated to be the ideal height for maximizing the tower’s coverage.

“Then there’s balance,” Rapisarda said. “There’s balance where I come in with the zoning law, there’s balance where you all come in with the community.” He said from there the company would typically consider reducing the height or making the tower less noticeable, balancing that against the tower’s coverage.

Rapisarda declined to provide copies of the coverage maps on display at the meeting, saying they are proprietary. Although access to the site is restricted to the public, he said other cell carriers would be allowed to mount their antennae to the proposed tower.

Loudouners peruse the conceptual site plans and schematics on display at AT&T’s meeting at the Lovettsville Game Protective Association Thursday, May 10.

The company has not yet filed a formal application to build the monopole, which will require two public hearings, along with a commission permit from the Planning Commission and a special exception permit from the Board of Supervisors. The proposed location indicated on pre-application paperwork appears to violate a Loudoun zoning ordinance that monopoles “shall not be located along ridge lines, but downslope from the top of ridge lines, to protect views of the Catoctin, Bull Run, Hogback, Short Hill, and Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Many Loudouners at the meeting, which was at times heated, left unsatisfied. “I don’t know how you’re going to convince us that it really belongs on the ridgeline,” remarked one.

A handout at the meeting said the tower will “enhance voice and mobile broadband coverage and prepare the future technology such as 5G.” The company is keeping a running list of frequently asked questions at https://engage.att.com/loudoun-county/faq/.

“We’re not hiding the ball here,” Rapisarda said. “This is a public meeting to do this.”

A photo composite showing an approximate comparison of AT&T cell coverage areas with and without a new tower on top of Short Hill Mountain, based on maps on display at the meeting Thursday, May 10. AT&T’s representatives have declined to provide digital copies of the coverage areas, citing proprietary information. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
A photo composite showing an approximate comparison of AT&T’s cell coverage areas without a new tower on Short Hill Mountain, based on maps on display at the meeting Thursday, May 10. AT&T’s representatives have declined to provide digital copies of the coverage areas, citing proprietary information. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)
A photo composite showing an approximate comparison of AT&T’s cell coverage areas with a new tower on Short Hill Mountain, based on maps on display at the meeting Thursday, May 10. AT&T’s representatives have declined to provide digital copies of the coverage areas, citing proprietary information. (Renss Greene/Loudoun Now)

rgreene@loudounnow.com

2 thoughts on “AT&T Maintains Short Hill Tower Would Improve Service

  • 2018-05-11 at 4:38 pm
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    There are several existing towers in that area of Loudoun that AT&T has not examined and modeled yet (or at least they haven’t admitted to it). They are only looking at a monster 155′ tower at the ridgetop, which violates the zoning ordinance.

  • 2018-06-02 at 1:10 pm
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    If they are serious about improving cellular coverage and service for residents of northwest Loudoun county, they can install much shorter cell towers that meet code requirements, one on each side of Short Hill Mountain to service residents of the 20180, as well the folks living in the Valley on the Neersville side.

    AT&T’s sole US Government customer needs a 148′ monopole (but it can be shorter they admitted) on the ridge of Short Hill Mountain, and that is the ONLY reason AT&T’s talking about “improved cell service” for western Loudoun. That US Government customer, for whom AT&T operates a Datacenter on Short Hill, apparently has a need for a very tall tower for communications. And we, the residents of western loudoun who live near the AT&T site, might otherwise protest the installation of such an eyesore if we get zero benefit from it. So AT&T offers to put a cell antenna on the pole and improve our lives.

    They lied the last time when they were proposing the new datacenter expansion on the ridge too. They said it would improve communications for residents of Western Loudoun but it would have done nothing of the kind. It would have increased the footprint of the new 50 foot tall datacenter, and would have provided a US Government agency with offices and conference rooms with some of the best views on the East Coast.

    Here is what Rushkin, the AT&T Architect said 2 years ago about the 160,000 Square Foot datacenter expansion project: “The upgrades would have provided Loudoun County businesses and residents additional opportunities to receive a variety of services such as Wi-Fi, entertainment, high speed Internet and, eventually, enhanced wireless broadband services.”

    However, a report by the Loudoun County Communications Commission concluded that the site would have had no benefit for the residents.

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