AT&T has returned with new plans for its property on top of Short Hill Mountain overlooking Lovettsville, this time a 125-foot monopole that the company says will improve cell service in northwestern Loudoun.
The monopole proposal was first discussed publicly in 2018, including at a well-attended open house at the Lovettsville Game Protective Association in spring 2018. At that time, the tower was proposed as 155-feet high.
After feedback at that meeting, said AT&T attorney Greg Rapisarda of Sault Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, project leaders went back to AT&T engineers to look for ways to reduce the tower’s height. He said moving the tower further down the mountain would involve damaging the mountain’s steep slopes for the sitework and access road.
Since that 2018 open house, however, the tower’s proposed height has been reduced as the company prepares to make a formal application to the county government for permits. With talk in the community about making the tower less obvious, Rapisarda said the tower will be painted the same matte gray employed in national parks, and that there is not expected to be a light atop the tower.
The tower is planned to have space for three other wireless carriers, and would also be part of the company’s FirstNet network, a wireless broadband network dedicated to first responders, AT&T representatives said.
“The coronavirus and all of this transition into more online learning and working from home, it highlights the gap that’s there and accentuates the need for coverage out there,” said AT&T representative David D’Onofrio. “I think as long as we are working with the community, I think folks have come to realize that the positives outweigh the negatives.
People living near Short Hill are particularly wary of work on AT&T’s site on top of the mountain after hearing of a proposal in 2016 to build a 35-foot-high, 160,000-square-foot aboveground facility on top of its already-existing underground facility on that site. That application was withdrawn under intense pressure from the community.