Reston, VA

Following months of opposition from local residents, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the addition of a cell tower at Herndon High School on Tuesday.

In response to concerns about the location and size of the facility, Milestone reduced the monopole’s height from 124 to 114 feet and the facility’s size from 2,590 to 1,175 square feet. The latest plan also shifts most of the ground equipment under the visitor’s bleachers and away from a more central location on the football field.

Still, residents said concerns about the use of the field for the facility remained unaddressed.

“We have consistently opposed the monopole because it is taking valuable land from our schools. It is a hazard to our children and is inconsistent with the school,” said Heather Metz, a Herndon High School parent who helped launched an online petition to oppose the facility.

Others said they were concerned the pole and facility was placed between in the middle of the football field.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said it was misleading to suggest the facility was located in the middle of the field.

“The reality is, that’s not where the pole and the compound are,” Foust said, adding that the revised proposal addresses many of the community’s concerns.

“I think everybody has done their best to minimize the impact of this proposal.”

Other board supervisors expressed dismay that a representative from Fairfax County Public Schools was not present at the meeting to allay concerns.

Vernon Miles contributed reporting to this story.

Photo via Milestone

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After several deferrals, a proposal for a new cell tower at Herndon High School cleared the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

At a meeting Wednesday night, the commission unanimously voted in favor of the project. Milestone Tower Limited Partnership plans to build a 114-foot monopole and other equipment for the facility, which could be blocked off by an eight-foot-tall fence. The facility is expected to improve cell phone coverage for Sprint customers.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Ulfelder said that Milestone’s latest proposal addresses some concerns raised by residents at public hearings earlier this year.

Ulfelder said he believes the changes, which were reviewed by staff last month, are adequate. He added that he was unsure critics would be happy with project unless it was completely withdrawn.

Milestone submitted several revisions earlier this year, which the county’s staff recommended for approval in an addendum to their initial report.

The project heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote later this month.

Photo via Sprint

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision on a proposed telecommunications facility on the grounds of Herndon High School last night (Wednesday).

Milestone Tower Limited Partnership hopes to build a 114-foot monopoly and other equipment for the facility, which would be blocked off by an eight-foot-tall, chain-link fence.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Ulfelder said the applicant submitted several revisions earlier this year, which the county’s staff recommended for approval in an addendum to their initial report.

“I would like to give a little more time for people to review the staff addendum and provide comments,” he said.

Ulfelder also noted the Fairfax County Public Schools met with residents who were concerned about the plan earlier this month.

Milestone reduced the height of the tallest monopole by 10 feet. The company also plans to install a sand filter for water quality treatment purposes.

Initially, Milestrone proposed purchasing off-site nutrient credits to make up for water quality control requirements. The facility would be located on the north side of the existing football field between two existing stadium light poles with heights of 70 and 85 feet.

The proposal has been deferred, but a date on the planning commission’s docket has not yet been announced.

Once approved by the commission, the proposal will head to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a final vote.

Photo via Sprint

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors plans to defer a decision on a cellphone communications facility at Herndon High School to later this year.

At a meeting this afternoon, the board is expected to defer the vote to September 15, according to county documents. The proposal has been deferred five times since the public hearing crossing the board’s desk on Feb. 25.

The county’s planning commission voted to defer a decision to yesterday (Monday) following concerns from the public. Commission members encouraged Fairfax County Public Schools to address issues flagged by residents.

Milestrone Communications is seeking to install a 124-foot monopole and associated equipment in a compound on the north side of the school’s football field. The tower is expected to help improve service for Spring customers.

The 3,185-square-foot compound, which will be enclosed by a chain-link fence, will be roughly 35 feet by 91 feet in size, according to the proposal.

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Sprint is gearing up for several community engagement events in order to educate residents about a  125-foot monopole and ground equipment that is proposed at Herndon High School (7999 Bennet Street).

The company is seeking the county’s approval to build at 91-by-35-foot structure enclosed with a telecommunications facility. The project heads to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m.

 Here’s more from Sprint on why the project is needed:

The project will help Sprint bring improved coverage to your community. The shaded section below shows the approximate area that will receive enhanced network strength with the proposed wireless facility. The new facility will improve Internet connectivity speed and voice connectivity–especially inside homes and buildings–and help your area respond to the increasing demand for quality wireless service.  Users outside of the shaded area may also see improved service as the new facility off-loads some of the traffic from the existing facilities in the area.

A community balloon fly will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 8 a.m., with a rain date of Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 8 a.m. A community meeting is set for Monday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. at Herndon United Methodist Church (701 Bennett Street).

More information about the project is available online.

Photo via Sprint

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The county is considering a proposal to bring a new telecommunications facility with a 124-foot monopole and a fenced 91-by-35 foot compound to Herndon High School.

Milestone Communications Inc. is working with Fairfax County Public Schools to build the telecommunications facility on school property and lease space to wireless providers in the county, according to an application accepted by the county on April 4.

If approved, the monopole and compound would sit on the north side of the football field, just west of the visitors’ bleachers and between two existing stadium light poles. Spring antennas will be located on a platform on top of the monopole and a six-foot tall rod will extend from the tower.

It’s not the first time Milestone has worked with FCPS to build a cell tower. The company has similar projects at South Lakes High School and Herndon Middle School. Len Forkas, the company’s president said the company is committed to informing the community about the project in a transparent manner.

“We’re super excited about being able to improve services and we look forward to the whole process to obtain necessary approvals,” Forkas told Reston Now.

The compound area will be closed off by a 10-foot tall chain link fence in an attempt to create “a solid visual barrier,” according to the application. To go forward, the county must rezone land designated for general public use to the proposed public use of telecommunication facilities.

“The proposed use is benign and will not generate noise, light, dust, glare, vibration, fumes or odors. The traffic generated will be very minimal. The proposed use does not present a threat to the public health, safety or welfare and will not impact radio, television or telephone reception. It will have no negative impact upon the air and water quality, nor will it impact any existing environmental features on the subject property,” according to the submission.

Forkas also said football fields are ideal locations for cell towers because they already have tall lights.

The company says the new facility is necessary to boost coverage along Dranesville Road, Wiehle Avenue, the Fairfax County Parkway and residential communities around the high school site. Currently, Sprint’s coverage in the area is “weak,” according to the application. The tower will also accommodate up to five telecommunications carriers.

The administrative office of FCPS has approved the location on the site, according to the application.

A hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission is set for Oct. 2.

Photo of equipment on Lake Braddock High School property via Len Forkas

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Reston Association’s Design Review Board unanimously shot down T-Mobile’s plans to install cell phone equipment on the roof of Waterford Square Condominiums Tuesday night — noting that the company’s tweaked plans did little to address residents’ concerns about the equipment’s incompatibility with the building.

T-Mobile proposed to install cell phone equipment on the building, igniting vehement opposition from residents’ who argued the equipment was extremely visible, damaged the building’s character and posed possible health concerns.

Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chair, said T-Mobile’s plan, which was similar to plans rejected by the board in April, did little to address the panel’s concerns about the visibility of the equipment. Panels are around 12 feet high and 10 feet wide.

“It was clear in April that this kind of design is not going to get approved by this board and it’s the same design,” Newlon said. “It’s almost embarrassing to be sitting here saying the same thing again and I don’t want to be… six months from now… saying the same thing again.”

DRB members also worried that installing cell phone equipment on a residential building could lead to similar proposals by other service providers. The redevelopment of Lake Anne Fellowship House prompted T-Mobile to remove its equipment from the rooftop and scout for other locations in Reston.

More than 25 people, including condominium residents and neighbors of the building, opposed the plan on Tuesday. Some noted that their stance was not indicative of mere opposition to change, adding that residents of the condominium were exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof.

“We’re not trying to live in the past,” one resident, who lived in the building for roughly 20 years, said.

Ed Donahue, T-Mobile’s legal representative, said the company had attempted to strike a compromise by scaling back the structure from the edge of the roof and installing plastic, brick-like screening for the equipment. Donahue also noted that possible health concerns and zoning were outside of the DRB’s purview.

“We are in full compliance of the federal guidelines as we are on the thousands of sites in Virginia,” Donahue said, comparing T-Mobile’s plans to a similar installation at the Heron House.

Other DRB members said that T-Mobile failed to convince the board how the cell phone equipment and towers would be compatible with the architectural integrity of the building.

“I still see that it’s visible and it does detract from the architecture and the roofline,” said Grace Peters, a DRB member.

The equipment by other companies displaced by development at the Lake Anne Fellowship House have not yet proposed plans for reinstallation to other sites.

Photo via handout/Reston Association

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Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy Verizon

A Fairfax County Planning Commission staff report recommends approval of a proposed cell phone tower to be built on the grounds of Crossfield Elementary School off Fox Mill Road.

Milestone Communications (on behalf of Verizon Wireless) is seeking to build a 138-foot tall monopole on the grounds of the school. The pole, which would be built to look like an evergreen tree, would be able to carry signals from five mobile carriers in order to fill in gaps in coverage. The pole would be on a 2,500-square-foot area surrounded by an 8-foot fence.

Crossfield Map/Credit: Milestone CommunicationsThere will be a planning commission hearing on the application on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center.

This is the second time in the last three years Reston-based Milestone has proposed a monopole at Crossfield. The company had a similar application in 2013, but withdrew it based on objections from residents.

Residents are perhaps even more upset at the latest proposal. They have organized a petition, put up a “Stop The Crossfield Tower” website and plan to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. Read More

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Proposed cell tower (tree) at Crossfield ES/Courtesy Verizon

Updated: The public hearing has been moved to Sept. 28 (it was originally reported to be Sept. 15

The plan to build a cell phone tower disguised as a tree at Crossfield Elementary School in Oak Hill will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission in September.

Verizon Wireless is seeking to build the tower at the Fairfax County Public Schools’ elementary school at 2791 Fox Mill Rd. on the Reston/Oak Hill line in order to improve cell phone coverage in the area.

Verizon is working with local firm Milestone Communications to get approval to build the 138-foot tower and improve cell phone reception in the area.

The request to build the pole comes about three years after a similar proposal fell apart in the application process. T-Mobile and Milestone filed an application in November of 2013 seeking to build at Crossfield. The request was postponed indefinitely. Read More

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Crossfield Map/Credit: Milestone Communications

A cell phone monopole is back in play for Crossfield Elementary School.

Verizon Wireless is seeking to build a cell phone tower at the Fairfax County Public Schools elementary school at 2791 Fox Mill Rd.

Verizon is working with local firm Milestone Communications to get approval to build the pole and improve cell phone reception in the area. The proposal is for a 138-foot tower disguised to look like a tree.

The request to build the pole comes about 2 1/2 years after a similar proposal fell apart in the application process. T-Mobile and Milestone filed an application in November of 2013 seeking to build at Crossfield. The request was postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, there was organized resident opposition to the 2013 proposal, including a petition signed by fewer than 200 people. Residents said there was already a cell phone tower nearby, that the tower would affect home values, and that cell phones should not be allowed on elementary school property because studies showing longterm health effects are inconclusive.

There was also a proposal by AT&T and Milestone for a pole at Hunters Woods Park, a Reston Association property, in June of 2014. The RA Design Review Board nixed the idea of a 115-foot pole in the woods behind a soccer field.

But many poles have been built on to public lands in recent years. South Lakes High School, Herndon Middle School, Madison High School and Carson Middle School are among the many FCPS properties that have cell phone towers on their grounds.

The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last several years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Milestone says schools and parks are ideal locations for these towers because they often have existing structures, such as field light poles, in place.

FCPS says it has has done studies on cell phones being located on school grounds and has determined the practice is safe.

Have some thoughts on a pole for Crossfield? A community meeting has been scheduled for May 19, 7 p.m., at the North County Government Center, Hunter Mill District Office, 1801 Cameron Glen Dr.

Map of proposed cell phone tower location/Credit Milestone Communications

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Proposed location of cell phone pole at Hunters Woods Park/Credit: MilestoneReston Association’s Design Review Board on Tuesday unanimously denied the proposal for a 115-foot cell phone tower in Hunters Woods Park.

The tower would have been the first such structure on RA land, though there have been requests to do so before. One of those requests was dropped by the carrier; the other was also denied by the DRB.

Reston-based Milestone Communications and AT&T sought to install a monopole in the wooded area behind the soccer field at the park off of Reston Parkway. The equipment would be located in a fenced-in area of the park and would include cables and other support structures.

The DRB concurred with several community members that spoke of their concerns with the environment, property values and damage to trees, among others, at Tuesday’s meeting.

Milestone has teamed with local entities many times over the last several years. There are several hundred existing cell phone poles on Fairfax County Public Schools land, including at South Lakes High School, Herndon Middle School, Madison High School and Carson Middle School, to name a few.

The cell phone tower would have been a moneymaker for Reston Association. The cell phone companies pay the landowners to lease the pole space. FCPS, for instance, has made more than $4 million from the arrangement over the last six years, FCPS officials said.

Milestone collects rent from the wireless carriers on its towers, 40 percent of which goes to FCPS. Schools receive $25,000 each time a tower is built, and then $5,000 from each wireless carrier that leases space on the tower.

Milestone says schools and parks are ideal locations for these towers because they often have existing structures, such as field light poles, in place. Many Milestone towers are disguised as trees, so lots of times they go unnoticed.

FCPS has done studies on cell phones being located on school grounds and has determined the practice is safe.

File photo of proposed cell phone pole/Credit: Milestone

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