Commissioners approve cell tower in residential community despite neighborhood objections

This artist's rendering, from the Telfair Summit HOA, shows how they say the proposed cell...
This artist's rendering, from the Telfair Summit HOA, shows how they say the proposed cell tower would look from resident's backyard.(Telfair Summit HOA)
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 3:55 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover Commissioners approved the Special Use Permit for a wireless communication tower between two residential neighborhoods in a 3-2 vote at their meeting Monday afternoon. Commissioners Deb Hayes and Rob Zapple cast the dissenting votes.

Some New Hanover County residents pushed back against the proposal to build a cell tower next to their neighborhood. Homeowners in Telfair Forest and Telfair Summit, two established neighborhoods off Carolina Beach Road, said the tower is not in keeping with the natural beauty of their community, and they wanted county commissioners to vote against the special use permit request.

Residents said they were unaware that Matt Murphy, who along with his father developed the Telfair communities, had retained about five acres of land when he transferred the rest of the community property to the Home Owners Association many years ago. He wants to build a 130-foot tower on his remaining property, which is sandwiched between those neighborhoods and also backs up to The Cape community.

Attorney Tom Johnson, who represents Matt Murphy and his company, Southeastern Enterprises, said his client has owned the land in question for years and that should not have been a surprise to residents. He said it was retained for future development.

While Telfair residents say it would be unprecedented for a cell tower to be erected next to an established residential neighborhood in New Hanover County, Johnson disagreed. He noted that the presence of a cell tower next to the Arab Shrine Club on South College Road, and another at the Messiah Lutheran Church at the corner of Pine Valley Drive and South College Road. Johnson says were both built despite the existence of homes nearby.

Telfair residents say those are not good examples, because in one case, the tower is not visible from nearby homes, and in the other instance, the land is zoned “792-Public Assembly” rather than “R-15″ like their neighborhoods.

Residents contend that allowing a Special Use Permit at this site would set a dangerous precedent for other established residential neighborhoods, and would hurt their property values.

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