Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | www.charlescountymd.gov

www.charlescountymd.gov

Charles County, Maryland

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Minutes
Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The Board of Appeals held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Charles County Government Building, La Plata, Maryland. 

The following were present:
 
Frederick Mower, Chairman
Jean Schappet, Member
Natalie McKinney, Member
Brendan Moon, Member
Cindy Terry, Alternate
Matthew Clagett, Associate County Attorney
Kirby Blass, Planning
Carrol Everett, Clerk

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and stated there was a quorum.  The Vice Chairman was absent.

The Chairman announced the process by which all Board of Appeals hearings are to be conducted.

The Chairman announced that anyone wishing to make a statement pertinent to the operations of the Board can do so at this time, excluding the items on tonight’s agenda.

7:02 PM, Public Hearing:  Docket #1295, #1296, #1297 – SMECO, for a Special Exception for a tower more than 50 ft. tall (utility pole), as provided in Article XXV, Section 297-415 of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance.  

Mr. Clagett stated there was compliance with the notification requirements for all three cases. 
The Chairman asked if all three Dockets could be combined as opposed hearing each case separately. 

Kirby Blass, Planning Staff, gave a brief summary of the request using a location, zoning and aerial map as follows: 

• Utility poles are proposed at three existing substations in Charles County
• The towers are necessary for an advanced metering infrastructure system.
• Each substation has been in operation for approximately 20 years.
• The utility poles have been classified under the use requirement “Towers more than 50 ft. tall, identified as Use #4.06.300 in the Zoning Ordinance.
• All towers greater than 50 ft. tall in all zones are required to go through the Special Exception process.
• The substations are described as follows:

Docket #1295 – Thompkinsville Substation
Location:  15170 Rock Point Road, Newburg
Acres: .75 acres
Zone:  Agricultural Conservation (AC)
Height of utility pole:  140 ft. (124 ft. above ground level)
Docket #1296 – Grayton Substation
Location:  9865 Ironsides Rd., Nanjemoy
Acres:   .76 acres
Zone:  Agricultural Conservation (AC)
Height of utility pole:  110 ft. (97 ft. above ground level)
Docket #1297 – Newburg Substation
Location:  11580 Edge Hill Rd., Newburg
Acres:  .43 acres
Zone:    Rural Conservation (RC) Zone
Height of utility pole:  110 ft. (97 ft. above ground level)

•  The  variances requested are to the following requirements associated with towers more than 50 ft. tall: 

- All structures shall be located at least 200 ft. from an existing dwelling or residential zone.
- A minimum ten-ft. landscape strip will be around all property lines exterior to any fenced or wall.
- A setback of one foot from all property lines for every foot of height of the utility pole. 

• Planning Staff recommends three conditions of approval for all three Dockets.

The Chairman asked if this was the first such request in Charles County.  Mr. Blass replied yes. 

Louis Jenkins, Jr.., Esquire, represented the Applicant. 

The Chairman swore in the following representative for SMECO:

Joshua Simmons
Communications Engineer
SMECO
15055 Burnt Store Rd.
Hughesville, MD


Mr. Simmons gave the Board a brief overview of the purpose of the three towers.  This project will allow them to read all meters in their territory. 

The Chairman asked what areas the substations would service.  Mr. Simmons replied the range varies – a 10 mile range.  There are no plans to come back to the Board for additional towers.

Mr. Jenkins stated that the need for these towers derived form an increase in technology that now exists.  They have attempted to locate these facilities on existing towers. 

Testimony made by Mr. Simmons included the following:
• There will be 15 towers total in all four Counties. 
• Each of the substations is fenced and secured.
• There will be no environmental impacts.
• The base of each pole is only 22 inches in diameter above ground and tapers to 9.3 inches in diameter at the top. 
• There are no plans to light the towers as they are well within FAA guidelines.
• The towers will not interfere with any other types of communications as FCC licensing is in place.  

There were questions from the Board regarding the variance requests.
 
Mr. Jenkins explained that the variances are needed as the parcels are small and the infrastructure already exists in the substations.

Ms. Schappet asked what is the payback for Charles County residents regarding SMECO’S cost saving.  Mr. Jenkins addressed her question.

Mr. Jenkins requested the Board remove from the Decision & Order staff recommendations regarding the need for a structural analysis and individual site development plan application for each of the utility poles to be erected.  The Chairman was not in favor of this request.

Mr. Jenkins continued that Prince Georges County advised SMECO that the erection of this type of utility pole in a substation is exempt from those obligations pursuant to the International Building Code.

Mr. Clagett suggested a letter regarding this matter be submitted to him for review.  

The Chairman swore in the following witness from the audience:

Tina Thomas
15180 Rock Point Rd
Newburg, MD

Ms. Thomas stated that her house is located next to the Thompkinsville Substation.  Her concerns regarded declining property value and possible adverse health effects.  The Chairman addressed her concerns.

ACTIONS BY THE BOARD

A MOTION was made by Mr. Moon, seconded by Ms. Schappet, to approve the Special Exception and variances for Docket #1295 with Staff recommendations.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Moon, seconded by Ms. Schappet, to approve the Special Exception and two variances for Docket #1296 with Staff recommendations.  Due to the location of the tower and size of the area, a smaller buffer than required shall be implemented and approved by Staff.  Due to the close proximity of the road to the substation, a 4th condition shall be added as follows:  A structure shall be installed between the road and the substation (such as a guard rail). With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed. 

A MOTION was made by Mr. Moon, seconded by Ms. Schappet, to approve the Special Exception and variances for Docket #1297 with Staff recommendations.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed. 

A MOTION was made by Mr. Moon, seconded by Ms. McKinney, to approve the Minutes for October 23, 2012.  With all in favor, the MOTION passed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:05 PM.

The following Decision & Orders were signed:

Docket #1290 – Sheehy Hyundai of Waldorf
Docket #1293 – Amos Ellis, Jr.
Docket #1294 – Richard & Carol Turner