|The Board of Zoning Appeals [Photo is from a video by Channel 16]|
That means the project is virtually dead—at least for the time being—even though the Fairfax County Planning Commission had recommended the Board of Supervisors approve the cell tower. A planned hearing by the Board of Supervisors will not take place.
Residents of Teton Place and Crater Place, who had complained that the tower would be an eyesore prominently visible from their homes and would hurt property values, were elated by the decision.
Six of the seven members of the Board of Zoning Appeals voted to deny the permit. One member, vice chair Paul Hammack Jr., abstained because he wasn’t at the public hearing July 17, when many local residents—opponents and supporters—presented their positions.
The BZA approved a motion 4-2, with one abstention, waiving the 12-month waiting period for the applicant to refile a similar application. AT&T could come back with another proposal for a cell tower at a different location on the Parklawn pool property. AT&T representative Ed Donohue said he is “not at liberty to say” whether the company will do that.
BZA member Norman Byers made the motion to deny the cell tower—even though a report by the Department of Planning and Zoning staff recommended approval—because it doesn’t conform to several sections in the Fairfax County zoning ordinance, including provisions call for structures to fit in harmoniously with surrounding properties and not affect their use or impair their value.
“Topography is the overriding factor,” said BZA member V. Max Beard, who noted that the tower would be on a ridge with homes above its base and that would create “a stadium effect.” He noted that many of the Parklawn pool members who support the tower “don’t live in the neighborhood so they don’t have to live with this 24/7.”
BZA member James Hart, who voted against it, said it might have worked if the topography was different and it wasn’t so close to houses. He said he previously supported cell towers at the Broyhill Crest and Holmes Run pools, both in Annandale, but noted that those towers are on flat ground and are surrounded by trees.
BZA member Tom Smith, who also voted against it, said he initially didn’t see any objections but when he made a site visit, he found it would be “very obtrusive and visible” from Teton Place. The BZA meeting is on video from Channel 16; the cell tower discussion is the first item on the agenda and lasts about 25 minutes.