How high could Aiken County cell phone towers go?

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News 12 First at Five, February 26, 2008

AIKEN CTY, S.C. --- A committee of the Aiken County Council is meeting Tuesday to iron out details of its plan for the height of cell phone towers in the county.

A Monetta man needs to use his cell phone everyday. But, everyday his service is simply lacking.

"You don't really get much service out there. When I'm trying to talk on my cell phone, like in certain areas, there's a lot of areas out there that don't pick up a good signal," says Michael Lewis.

And that's exactly what the County Council is looking to improve. A Monetta woman says she uses her cell phone about 50 times a day. So, how many times do you think she says a call gets dropped?

"About 35 of them, so that tower would be good for us," says Mitzie Abner.

As the rain came down on Tuesday, the Council wants to build up, the cell phone towers that is.

"There's a lot of people out there who like to talk on their cell phone so I think it would probably be a good idea to put some more towers up," says Michael.

The Council wants the tower heights to vary:
-in certain residential areas, 100 FT.
-in commercial areas, 150 FT.
-in industrial areas, 250FT.
-in rural areas, 350 FT.

Councilman Scott Singer says a problem with the new proposed ordinance is that towers could be built in residential single-family home areas. Right now, that is not allowed.

Also, the current cell phone tower ordinance does not allow any tower in the entire county to be taller than 120 FT.

"My opinion is, the taller it is, the better service you probably are going to get," says Michael.

But a consultant to the County Council says that's not true. No matter how high a tower is, it doesn't really affect outgoing calls to a tower beyond 2 and a half miles.

"It would be a good idea to have more towers," says Michael.

And the consultant agrees. Two shorter towers are better than one bigger tower. The perception or reality could be, "we don't have the coverage we need," says Singer.

Scott wants something, "that maintains quality of life aspects but also allows cell phone users to get the coverage they'd like to have."

"If having more towers prevents me from roaming in Aiken, I say go for it!" says Michael.

Last week, the Aiken County Planning Commission recommended the council does not change it's current ordinance for the cell phone towers.

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