Hamlet tower ordinance delayed again

Amanda Moss Richmond County Daily Journal

October 24, 2013

The Hamlet City Council’s efforts to update its telecommunications tower ordinance has been delayed for a second time.

A new law passed by this year’s General Assembly has forced the city back to the drawing board.City officials said any proposed changes in the ordinance are to allow the city to be in line with other municipalities when it comes to regulations, requirements, application process, penalties and fees for towers.

The issue was discussed during a public hearing in September. Council members tabled the issue at that time because of a Hamlet business owner’s that the ordinance, as presented in draft format last month, would hurt small businesses.

The city redrafted the ordinance but was notified Tuesday that more changes are coming.

Gail Strickland, the city of Hamlet’s zoning expert, explained why this new law would delay the presentation of revised draft of the ordinance.

“I just received an email concerning the new guidelines on Tuesday,” Strickland said. “In order to make sure we are in compliance with this new piece of legislation, we need to do a thorough investigation before it can be presented as a proposed change. We would not be able to do that before the Nov. 12 meeting.”

House Bill 664, entitled “Cell Tower Deployment Act,” went into effect on Oct. 1. This legislation has created new guidelines with regards to laws concerning towers in North Carolina.

Van Billingsley, owner of the Electronics Service Company in Hamlet, disagreed with the proposed changes in the ordinance as presented in September. He said saying that the changes would make it more expensive to modify or work on a tower, effectively making Hamlet a more expensive place to conduct business.

Billingsley said that the city is looking to get more involved with the application process. The problem is the city currently doesn’t have anyone that can understand the details of the application.

“They will need to hire someone to interpret the details,” Billingsley said.

Billinsley said that this will cost a significant amount of money to those seeking to build or modify a tower in Hamlet.

“And if the application is denied, the fees are non-refundable,” Billingsley said.

The ordinance will affect local businesses and radio stations that have towers. Anyone interested in the ordinance is encouraged to attend a future public hearing on the issue whenever it is reschedule.