Originally created 08/24/02

Company plans cell phone tower



The city of Aiken is about to enter the business of vertical real estate.

SBA Properties Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla., wants to erect a 190-foot cellular phone tower at Silver Bluff and Town Creek roads.

The city council will consider the request at its 7 p.m. meeting Monday.

SBA wants to lease a 250-square-foot portion of the city's water plant at the intersection. The company's preliminary agreement with the city would allow it to lease the property for $1,000 a month for five years, with the option to lease the property for up to four more five-year terms.

"In comparing this lease value to others within the two Carolinas, we will be receiving two to four times more than any other current lease," City Manager Roger LeDuc wrote in a memo to city council members.

The lease agreement states that SBA's monthly payment would increase by 15 percent every five years. SBA would have the right to lease space on the cellular tower to third parties, according to the agreement.

The city already leases space for $10,000 a year to three cellular companies on its water tank at York Street and South Boundary. SBA, which represents SunCom cellular services, said it needs a tower at Silver Bluff and Town Creek roads because it cannot provide service to its customers in that part of the city.

At its last meeting, council members expressed little hesitancy about the tower, unless, they said, it would be an eyesore. The water plant where the monolithic pole would be erected is surrounded by evergreen trees.The pole would not be attached to a water tower.

The trees stand about 60 feet high, compared to the 190-foot pole.

Council members also expressed concern about lights on the pole that would make it stand out at night.

But, the pole is not tall enough to require lights under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, the SBA told city officials.

Nana Carlton owns a hair salon across from the city's water plant. She said she fears the cell tower could be unsightly for residents who live nearby, though she hears complaints from cell phone users.

"It's not going to affect me as long as they keep the trees," Ms. Carlton said Friday. "A lot of customers come in here and say they have horrible connection on their cell phone.

"I think it will help."

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803)279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.