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News County approves Rainbow Springs cell tower

Company says up to seven carriers can use the tower.

Cell phone service in the Rainbow Springs area will soon be getting a boost. During last Tuesday's Macon County Board of Commissioners meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to approve an application from Pegasus Tower to construct a 170- foot telecommunication tower at 12692 Murphy Road in the Rainbow Springs area.

The tower, which will hopefully boost cellphone service for remote areas of the county, has garnered interest from AT&T, who will be the main tenant on the tower initially.

Commissioners expressed concern to Pegasus Tower owners regarding the lack of AT&T users in the area. Commissioner Chair Kevin Corbin asked audience members to show by hand who in the board room used the cell provider and only one person raised their hand while about 20 people raised their hand when asked the same questions regarding Verizon Wireless.

According to representatives with Pegasus Tower, although AT&T will be the primary tenant, once the monopole structure is complete, other providers such as Verizon will be able to also use the tower. The tower has the capability to carry up to six providers.

Before approving the construction of the tower, commissioners held a public hearing on the application to allow citizens to speak for or against it.

Darrell Lee, president of the Nantahala River Association, spoke during the meeting and asked commissioners to approve the tower due to safety issues. Lee informed commissioners that the area surrounding the proposed tower is in desperate need of wireless coverage in order to fill a communication void. “It would be big help to us," said Lee. "We do without telephone service a lot down there.”

Lee told commissioners that he has killed dozens of rattlesnakes in the area recently, and the lack of communication tools poses a great danger for residents in the area.

Macon County Planner Matt Mason spoke in favor of the application and informed commissioners that having a tower in that area could help emergency services better respond to issues in the remote western part of Macon County. “It could be potential way to address some safety issues at Standing Indian Campground,” he said.

Tower visibility was a concern when debating approving the application due to the aesthetic appeal of the proposed location. According to Mason, the location of the tower would not likely be seen by travelers heading west from Franklin, but depending on the time of year and area greenery, may be seen by travelers heading from Hayesville to Franklin.

Commissioner Ronnie Beale supported the application and asked Pegasus representatives if Macon County emergency services would have free access to the tower. As a contingency placed on the approval of the contract, Macon County will have unlimited access to the telecommunication tower and will be able to use it for radio communications.

Mason said that county emergency personnel have expressed interest in gaining access to the tower upon approval.

“We have a letter from David Key, director of Emergency Services, and West Macon Fire Chief Josh Randall requesting that be addressed,” said Mason.

According to Pegasus, the project will be completed as soon as possible.

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