main banner

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Board of Supervisors delays decision on Parklawn cell tower

AT&T representative Ed Donohue testifies before the Board of Supervisors.

Following a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors hearing on the Parklawn cell tower Sept. 10 in which 34 people testified, the board approved a motion by Mason Supervisor Penny Gross to postpone a decision until Sept. 24.

Gross noted the “unusual situation” with regard to the cell tower proposed for a site owned by the Parklawn Recreation Association (PRA): The Fairfax County Planning Commission had endorsed the cell tower, determining it fits in with the county’s Comprehensive Plan, while the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) had rejected a special permit exception to allow it on PRA property because it’s not harmonious with the character of the neighborhood.

If the Board of Supervisors rejects the cell tower at its next meeting, a cell tower for this particular location is dead. If the board approves it, the applicant, which represents AT&T has indicated it will appeal the BZA decision to the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. AT&T can also resubmit the proposal to the BZA.

Board members had few questions at the Sept. 10 hearing. Gross asked the AT&T representative, Ed Donohue, whether he considered other locations, such as Peace Lutheran Church or Queen of Apostles Church. Donohue said those locations were considered but won’t work.

Gerald Hyland (Mount Vernon) asked whether AT&T had considered other locations on PRA property where the tower would be less visually intrusive. Donohue said other sites were rejected because too many trees would have to be removed and much of the property is a flood plain or resource protection area.

Among the people who testified, 22 urged the board to approve the cell tower, while 12 opposed it.

Many of those who spoke raised the same issues they presented at previous meetings. Most of those in favor of the cell tower live in the Heywood Glen neighborhood. They spoke about poor cell coverage, the safety risks of being unable to access emergency services, and the value of keeping the Parklawn pool as a community asset. The income generated by a cell tower would allow the pool to be financially stable.

Those opposed talked about the visual impact of the cell tower and its harm to property values. The tower “will destroy the character of the neighborhood,” said Linda Barrett, who lives next door to the proposed site. She noted that many of the people speaking in favor of the tower are members of the pool but don’t live in Parklawn. “The pool is only open 90 days a year. I live here 365 days a year.”

Sybil Laird, who lives close to the proposed site, isn’t bothered by aesthetics. “Utility poles and wires are even more intrusive and we don’t give them a second thought,” she said.

Several people said the cell tower is needed because there’s no cell coverage on Homes Run Trail and people can’t access emergency services if there’s a crime or accident. But some of those opposed said they have phone logs showing there is adequate coverage.


  1. I heard from a reliable source there is a study from England that says 90% of people will do harm to another person for money. They proved it with showing them the money.

    This cell tower case shows who of you all are in that 90% , you may feel good about being in the majority.

    the majority of people will hurt other people for money.

    this cell tower is an example of that

    1. yes the reliable source can be verified by God

    2. money , money, money money money money.... I heard it this weekend and it connected with this , too bad no one else was at 1030 to hear it

    3. dispicable... what people will do or say

      lots of lies and mis testimonies I hear.... stuff about lack of cell phone connections from 10 years ago , but they didnt mention that in their testimony

      I guess that is not a lie , right ... if it happened 10 years ago then it it is a fact today that there was no connection for a cell phone call 10 yrs ago

      people are at a new low these days