By NATHAN GREGORY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen Tuesday backed the board of adjustments and appeals’ recommendation to deny C Spire’s variance request to erect a 100-foot cellular tower.
The proposed variance failed in a 4-2 vote. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver and Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker voted in favor of allowing the variance. Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn dissented. Ward 2 Alderman and Mayor Pro Tempore Sandra Sistrunk acted in Mayor Parker Wiseman’s place during the item of board business after he rescinded himself from discussion.
The proposed tower was to be located in a C-2 zoning district at 403 Abernathy Drive in Ward 1.
The board of adjustments and appeals initially rejected the request in its July 25 meeting by a 3-1 vote.
Board of Adjustments and Appeals Chair Milo Burnham said there is a problem with the wireless communication and tower ordinance which impedes C Spire’s ability to go through with its plan.
“Under the ‘Permitted Uses’ … (that) says here that the tower shall not exceed 1 foot for each 2 feet the tower is set back from residential property up to a maximum of a 150-foot tower, which would take 300 feet. In this situation it would take 200 feet as far as setbacks, but it turns around in the first part and it says but you’ve got to apply all of sections (Planning and Zoning Code) 104-55,” Burnham said. “(That) says no tower shall be set within a 2,640-foot radius of another tower or residential zoning district … This ordinance contradicts itself.
“C Spire needs an answer and they need help. I don’t think the board of adjustments and appeals was opposed to a C Spire tower. They were opposed to the fact of putting it in a back yard,” Burnham added. “We had a problem with the fact that the fencing around it would be a problem. I have sought interpretation both with the building department and I have asked for legal interpretation because I want to know if I as an individual was wrong because, as the chairman of the board, I didn’t want to be in the wrong position on this. Tonight, I went … as a citizen before the city to say ‘You have an ordinance which needs help.’”
In other business, the board:
— Hired Deputy City Clerk Emma Gandy as director of sanitation and environmental services at a salary grade 16. The board approved the hire by a 6-1 vote, with Parker voting in dissent.
— Approved calling for a public hearing on the city’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year. The hearing is scheduled for the board’s next meeting Sept. 4.
— Appointed Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill as chairperson of the audit and budget committee. The position had been vacant since Sistrunk stepped down from the committee earlier this year.