Beaufort News

County panel to consider proposed Dale telecommunications tower Wednesday

A request to build a 190-foot telecommunication tower in northern Beaufort County would bring better cellphone service to Dale, supporters say.

But at least one nearby resident says the tower would mar the rural skyline with flashing lights and be visible for miles around.

Optima Towers of Mount Pleasant plans to build the tower on 1.6 acres at 141 Porches Hill Road. The county's Development Review Team is scheduled to consider Optima's request at 11 a.m. today in the executive conference room of the administration building at 100 Ribaut Road in Beaufort.

The tower is designed to better serve Dale and allow residents better access to emergency responders, said Jonathan Yates, a Charleston attorney representing the company.

Dale is north of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, across the Whale Branch River.

Coverage there is inadequate, so residents "have been kind of left behind" compared to the rest of the county, Yates said.

The tower is being planned for Cricket Wireless but will have space for other carriers, he said.

Optima officials have secured the County Council's approval to allow towers in the area and met with Dale residents, who support the company's plan, Yates said.

However, Sheldon resident John Smith, who lives across the river from the site, is concerned about the tower's visual impact.

"That will be what we see when we look at the river," Smith said. "I don't think that's such a great idea."

He's also concerned the tower could threaten low-flying aircraft and, if equipped with 4G technology, could interfere with GPS navigation units.

Yates said the tower would be a monopole, "the most visibly innocuous" design available, and looks "very good" when projected on photos of the area. Federal aviation officials have approved the tower, he said.

Greg Gilbert, a lifelong resident of Dale and chairman of the county's preservation committee for the area, said the group considered aesthetics before deciding better cellphone service was more important.

"Overwhelmingly, most of the community was in favor of having a cellphone tower," he said.