WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Planning Commission unanimously voted Wednesday night to recommend approval of a conditional use permit for a 70-foot telecommunications facility at 100 Archwood Trail.

The tower is located in the Shawneeland subdivision in the Back Creek District and rests on property zoned R5, Residential Recreational Community. Property owner Robert Blankenship, president of the North Mountain Communications Club, purchased the property with the tower in 2014 and has for the past several years used the tower to provide internet service to residents on North Mountain. He said he found out recently from county planner Mark Cheran that the tower violated the property’s zoning designation.

“We acquired this tower from a previous owner,” Blankenship said. “It was constructed in '95. We were under the belief that everything was in accordance with the county at that time, until Mr. Cheran contacted us that it was not. So we are simply trying to come into compliance with the county and be a good neighbor here, providing a source of wireless communication and Internet in the community there.”

The conditions of the proposed permit state that the tower shall be available for collocating personal wireless service providers. The permit says the tower shall be removed by the applicant or property owner within 12 months of abandonment of operation. Any expansion or modification of this use will require a new Conditional Use Permit.

The matter will go before the board of Supervisors on Aug. 12.

— Contact Josh Janney at jjanney@winchesterstar.com

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