Cellphone towers approved in Roanoke City parks

Towers will go up at Preston Park and Fallon Park

ROANOKE, Va. – Two new cellphone towers are going up in the city of Roanoke, and they're being built in city parks. The Roanoke City Council approved the towers at its meeting Monday night, but the decision was not unanimous.

It was an eleventh-hour decision, and there were some questions over how many yes votes were needed for the plans to pass. But in the end, both towers were approved.

The towers will go in at Fallon Park and at Preston Park. They will be built in a monopod style, which means they'll resemble giant sticks in the ground. The towers will not have attachments to make them look like trees as some other area towers do.

Councilwoman Michelle Dykstra voted against both of the towers, while Vice Mayor Joe Cobb voted against just one. The money the city brings in from the leases will go toward the city parks budget.

"I do think the income is important to the city and that's why it was a difficult vote," Dykstra said. "And that's why I had supported it up until the point I actually saw (one) in person, because I do want to see money coming into the park system and I do want to see us do everything we can to support our park system."

Milestone Communications submitted the lone sealed bid for both sites. The company worked with neighbors on the project and altered plans based on feedback.

"We received feedback that (neighbors) wanted to see an alternative location so we worked with the park director and found another location that was more amenable to the community," Milestone Communications president Len Forkas said. "We feel like we generally solved the problem and came up with a solution that was supportable by both the community and the board of zoning appeals."

The city will receive an up-front fee of $25,000 and then thousands of dollars in annual rent. Some members of the council argued someone was going to get that money as the tower needed to be built, so it might as well be the city.

Milestone Communications said it hopes to start construction sometime before the end of the year.


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