published Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Whitfield OKs plan for cell towers

DALTON, Ga. — More communications towers could sprout up in Whitfield County after county commissioners approved a lease agreement that would allow towers to be built on county-owned property for a fee.

Brantley Basinger with Municipal Communications said that commissioners would retain to the right to approve each site and each tower before it was built under the lease agreement.

Commissioners approved the agreement as a way to bring in additional revenue for the county. The 2-1 vote at the Monday meeting was rare. The commissioners typically vote unanimously.

Greg Jones and Harold Brooker supported the lease, and Robby Staten voted against it. Gordon Morehouse was absent.

Under the lease terms, Municipal Communications would pay the county $65,000 for an approved lease, an additional $35,000 in the second year and $500 a month after that. An approved lease would run for 20 years.

The county also would have the option of placing its communications devices on towers free.

“This is all pros for us,” County Administrator Mark Gibson told commissioners before the vote. “It provides revenues for the county. If the tower is not conducive to county property, commissioners can refuse to have it built.”

The lease agreement does not specify any sites that will be used for the towers.

Basinger said his company recruits agencies looking to place towers in the area and works with the county to decide where towers would be built.

Brooker asked if more aesthetic-looking towers, such as ones that looked like trees, could be built. Basinger said the type of tower needed and where it was placed would determine the kind of tower that was built.

“It will have to be approved by you every step of the way,” he told commissioners.

In other business, county commissioners approved appointments for two new county director positions.

Longtime county employee Rick Lovelady was appointed as IT director, and Brian Chastain will become the Parks and Recreation director.

Chastain, who previously had worked as Murray County Parks and Recreation director, had served as interim director several months before his appointment.

Board members also created an ad hoc advisory board for the Whitfield County Miracle League and appointed board members. Chairman Mike Babb said a permanent board will be created once the field for the league is completed, he hopes within the next year.

Contact Mariann Martin at 706-980-5824 or mmartin@timesfreepress.com

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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