Southampton supervisors re-approve Millfield Road cell tower

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a conditional use permit by the Apex Tower Company to construct a 195-foot cell tower off Millfield Road, which will be used by Verizon Wireless to provide cellular service to town of Sedley and the surrounding area.

According to vice chairman Ronnie West, Apex, a New Jersey-based tower construction firm, picked up the Millfield Road project after Verizon Wireless’s original conditional use permit, authorized by the board in 2013, had expired.

Representatives of Apex told the board that the reason Verizon had not acted on its initial approved conditional use permits was because the tower proposals got put on indefinite hold following several changes in management.

West was impressed with the Apex representative’s presentation and described the company as “picking up the slack” for Verizon.

The vote to approve the permit came following a sparsely attended public hearing on the matter, during which very few residents expressed objections.

“These companies, they want the right to put it [the towers] out there and get people excited,” West said. “There are dead spots throughout the county. We do need these things.”

The proposed Millfield Road tower will be triangular in shape, have no light on top, and will be designed so that, in the event of a disaster severe enough to bring the tower down, it would collapse in on itself like a building imploding rather than be blown over.

West added that the county will get free radio service for the Sheriff’s Office and fire and rescue departments out of the deal.

Following the public hearing and vote on the cell tower, the board voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of taxation by counties on the sale of cigarettes, which will be presented to the General Assembly next year. The resolution states the board’s desire to amend the Dillan Rule, which currently allows towns and cities in Virginia to tax cigarettes, but not counties.

“We want cigarette tax money to come to the county,” West said. “Right now, we are working at a disadvantage. We cannot tax cigarettes. We cannot get the money unless the state decides we can do it.”

West estimates the county could take in a few hundred thousand dollars from passing a county-wide cigarette tax.

The board also received an update on the South Quay Bridge replacement project and will hold a public hearing on the proposed designs at a future meeting next year.

The next Southampton County Board of Supervisors meeting will be on Monday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.