By Amy Wenk
The Sandy Springs City Council on July 13 voted 5-1 to deny Verizon Wireless’ proposal to build a 115-foot cell tower on Dupree Drive.
“We are happy the right decision was made,” said resident Jamie Kleber, who lives within 200 feet of the proposed cell tower.
Since the proposal was introduced to the community in late April, more than 1,400 residents like Kleber have protested having a cell tower in what is largely a residential area. Dozens of those residents came to the July meeting wearing red stickers that said “No cell phone tower in our neighborhood!”
Most of City Council supported the neighborhood. Many members said they couldn’t see a need for the cell tower.
“I’m not convinced all options have been looked at,” Dist. 2 Councilwoman Dianne Fries said.
Verizon representatives said they have searched for a tower site in the area for two years. After asking other property holders, such as Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church and School, Verizon decided to try leasing land from the city of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, which owns a water tank and land on Dupree Drive.
“This facility is needed,” said attorney David Kirk, who represents Verizon. “The quality of service is spotty and not reliable in this area.”
Dist. 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny said a cell tower shouldn’t be built on a historic site. Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman headquartered his troops there before the Battle of Atlanta, she said.
“This is one of the few historically significant sites we have in Sandy Springs,” Dist. 3 Councilman Chip Collins said.
Dist. 1 Councilman John Paulson cast the dissenting vote. He said some residents would miss out on improved cellular service. “The people who would benefit most from this weren’t heard.”
In response to council’s decision to deny, Kirk said, “If y’all don’t want to improve service in this area, that’s fine.”
The city’s Planning Commission also denied the application at its June 17 meeting.