COMMUNICATION TOWERS COMBINED

It is the intent of the city to allow communication towers for mobile telephone services and other radio and television information services which provide for the needs of its citizens while minimizing adverse visual and operational effects of such towers through careful design, placement, and screening; to avoid potential damage to adjacent properties from tower failure and falling ice; and to maximize the use of any existing towers and to reduce the number of new towers which are needed.

Coming Soon - Click HERE to complete the Communication Towers Combined Application.

Section 2.7 - TERMS DEFINED IN THIS ORDINANCE
https://library.municode.com/nc/gastonia/codes/unified_development_ordinance?nodeId=CH2INRUCODE_S2.7TEDEOR 
A combined communication tower meets each of the following criteria:
(1) The tower is designed to accommodate at least two (2) wireless telephone providers.
(2) The tower is designed to accommodate a third user, which may either be a city public safety communication transmitter/receiver or a third wireless telephone provider. If a city public safety communications transmitter and/or receiver is proposed to be the "third user" and the tower will be owned by an entity other than the city, there shall be a written agreement, executed prior to issuance of a zoning permit, between the city and the tower owner to allow public safety communications use of the tower at no cost to the city. As used herein, the term "designed to accommodate" shall mean that only one wireless telephone provider need occupy the tower immediately following construction; other users may occupy the tower at a future time but the tower owner at the time of construction must submit statements certified to by licensed structural and radio frequency engineers that the tower will accommodate other wireless telephone providers in terms of strength, placement, and spacing between antennae. Only one wireless telephone provider need initiate use of the tower.
(3) The tower shall be located on property owned by the city.
(4) The tower may be owned by a wireless telephone service licensee of the Federal Communications Commission, the city, or by a third party tower provider.
SECTION 7.5 - PRE-EXISTING LOTS OF RECORD
Cell Tower Combined Uses
7.6.3 - SCENIC VIEW OVERLAY DISTRICT
 
A.  Permitted Uses.
All permitted principal and accessory uses in the underlying general zoning district, shall be allowed, except that telecommunication towers and facilities are not allowed anywhere in the SV district. Notwithstanding, in no instance shall the regulations within this district apply to a single- or two-family dwelling.
B.  Setbacks.
The more restrictive of either the underlying general zoning district or any other applicable overlay district(s) shall apply.
C.  Minimum Lot Width.
The more restrictive of either the underlying general zoning district or any other applicable overlay district(s) shall apply.
D.  Maximum Building Height.
  1.  No structure shall be erected higher than the most restrictive requirement of either the maximum height allowed by the underlying general zoning district, the maximum height allowed by any overlay district, or thirty-five (35) feet.
  2.  Exceptions to height limits of structures listed in Section 9.8 of this Ordinance shall not be applicable within the SV District, with the following exceptions:
  1. Roof structures not intended for human occupancy and serving in an accessory capacity to the principal structure on the lot, such as skylights, housing for elevators, stairways, roof water tanks, ventilating and air conditioning equipment shall be allowed, provided however any such roof structures do not lie more than twelve (12) feet in height above the highest point of the roof surface.
  2. There shall be no height limits for steeples, architectural spires, belfries, cupolas, and chimneys on residential structures.
  3. Antennae for radiation or reception of radio and television signals are allowed with a height of up to seventy-five (75) feet above the ground.
7.6.6 - GC GATEWAY CORRIDOR OVERLAY DISTRICT
 
A.  Permitted Uses.
Any permitted or conditional uses allowed in the underlying zoning district shall be permitted except as listed below. All new permitted and conditional uses shall meet all requirements as outlined in the Gateway corridor overlay. Where the requirements of the overlay are more restrictive than in the underlying district, the regulations of the overlay district shall prevail. Adult establishments shall be prohibited within the Gateway corridor overlay district, regardless of the underlying zoning designation.

1.     Uses prohibited in office districts:

  1. Bail bonding companies.
  2. Construction and property management offices.ommunication towers are prohibited except as follow
  3. Communication towers are prohibited except as follows:

• Communication towers of any height are allowed subject to the same restrictions as applicable for residential districts outside the Gateway corridor overlay. This includes towers erected as an accessory use to a radio and television studio.
• Communication antennae may be placed on structures used primarily for other purposes in accordance with Section 9.15.
• Communication towers used for public safety communications or public emergency medical services communications, or any tower used for both public safety communications or public emergency medical services communications and private wireless telephone services, shall be allowed as of right.

2.     Uses prohibited in C-1, neighborhood commercial districts:

  1.  Bail bonding companies.
  2.  Construction and property management offices.
  3.  Home electronic sales and repair.
  4.  Appliance sales and repair.
  5.  Auto service stations, convenience stores and mini-marts.
  6.  Check cashing service.
  7.  Taxi company.
  8.  Communication towers are prohibited except as follows:

• Communication towers of any height are allowed subject to the same restrictions as applicable for residential districts outside the Gateway corridor overlay. This includes towers erected as an accessory use to a radio and television studio.

• Communication antennae may be placed on structures used primarily for other purposes in accordance with Section 9.15.

• Communication towers used for public safety communications or public emergency medical services communications, or any tower used for both public safety communications or public emergency medical services communications and private wireless telephone services, shall be allowed as of right.

3.  Uses prohibited in C-2, highway commercial districts:

  1.  Automotive engine and drive train repair, body shops, wrecker storage facilities, and junk and salvage yards, and other auto uses involving outdoor storage.
  2.  Game rooms.
  3.  Golf driving ranges and miniature golf.
  4.  Flea markets.
  5.  Self service and automatic car washes.
  6.  Taxi company.
  7.  Communication towers are prohibited except as follows:
• Communication towers of any height are allowed subject to the same restrictions as applicable for residential districts outside the Gateway corridor overlay. This includes towers erected as an accessory use to a radio and television studio.
• Communication antennae may be placed on structures used primarily for other purposes in accordance with Section 9.15.
• Communication towers used for public safety communications or public emergency medical services communications, or any tower used for both public safety communications or public emergency medical services communications and private wireless telephone services, shall be allowed as of right

4.     Uses prohibited in C-3, general commercial districts:

  1.  Storage warehouses and yards.
  2.  Sales and service of manufactured homes; farm, construction and excavation machinery, trucks and implements; trucks; automobiles; and recreational vehicles; and the sale only (excluding service and repair) of automobiles.
  3.  Veterinary hospitals with outside runs and commercial kennels.
  4.  Automobile car washing facilities.
  5.  Miniwarehouses.
  6.  Freestanding recycling collection points.
  7.  Recreational courses for minibikes, small motor powered cars and similar recreational vehicles.
  8.  Communication towers are prohibited except as follows:

• Communication towers of any height are allowed subject to the same restrictions as applicable for residential districts outside the Gateway corridor overlay. This includes towers erected as an accessory use to a radio and television studio.

• Communication antennae may be placed on structures used primarily for other purposes in accordance with Section 9.15.

• Communication towers used for public safety communications or public emergency medical services communications, or any tower used for both public safety communications or public emergency medical services communications and private wireless telephone services, shall be allowed as of right.

5.     Uses prohibited in industrial districts:

  1.  Outdoor storage yards visible from the affected urban corridor as accessory or principal uses.
  2.  Storage building sales and display.

(Ord. No. 11-593, § 2, 8-2-11)

SECTION 9.15 - COMMUNICATION TOWERS AND COMMUNICATION TOWER, COMBINED
 
A.     Intent. It is the intent of the city: to allow communication towers for mobile telephone services and other radio and television information services which provide for the needs of its citizens while minimizing adverse visual and operational effects of such towers through careful design, placement, and screening; to avoid potential damage to adjacent properties from tower failure and falling ice; and to maximize the use of any existing towers and to reduce the number of new towers which are needed.
 
B.     Location.

1.     Location of freestanding communication towers in residential (R) zones (except RLD), the C-1, CBD, O-1, OLC, O-M, and TMU districts shall be as follows:
  1.  The tower shall be a use by right if mounted to an existing structure.
  2.  Communication towers in the aforementioned zoning districts (except CBD) may not be free-standing structures unless designed as stealth towers and approved through the conditional use permit process in subsection (f) of this section. Free-standing towers, including stealth, shall be prohibited in the CBD, as well as, the Historic District and the Center City Design District.
  3.  A stealth tower, in residential (R) zones (except R-A), the C-1, C-1A, O-1, O-2, O-M, and O-P districts, shall not be permitted if it is independent or not customarily complementary to existing use(s) on the lot in which the proposed tower is to be constructed. For example, a bell tower would not be considered appropriate on a single-family residential lot and, for example, a cell tower disguised as a tree would not be appropriate in the center of an open field.

2.     Location of freestanding communication towers in the RLD, C-2, C-3, UMU, I-1, I-2, I-3, and I-U districts shall be governed as follows:

  1.  A monopole tower may be built, subject to the tower meeting all other performance criteria contained herein and elsewhere in this Ordinance.
  2.  A lattice tower may be built subject to certain height and distance separations based on how far the base of the tower is set back from the nearest thoroughfare (as designated on the most recently adopted version of the thoroughfare plan of the Gaston Urban Area) along with other performance criteria as herein listed. The following chart shows distance and height requirements for the placement of lattice towers:
9.15.2.b chart
 

An example of this is as follows:

A communication tower (of lattice construction) is proposed to be located in the I-1 district. The tower, meeting all other conditions of this Ordinance, is to be located three hundred fifty (350) linear feet (as measured using the straightest short line distance) from the nearest thoroughfare right-of-way. The tower may therefore be no greater than one hundred twenty (120) feet in height.

If said tower were of monopole construction, the tower could be placed elsewhere on the lot, subject to it meeting all other applicable regulations of this Ordinance.

3.     Two-way local communication radio towers incidental to a business use (i.e., used by said business for their operational communications only) may be up to two hundred (200) feet in height in any zone other than a residential zone. Any such tower shall meet the applicable setback requirements for the zoning district in which it is located. Any such tower shall be set back from any lot in a residential zoning district by a distance equal to the height of the tower, or two hundred (200) feet, whichever is less. Said towers shall be of monopole construction only.
 
C.     Maximum height. Maximum tower height of lattice towers is discussed in Section 9-15B2. There are no maximum height restrictions for monopole towers, except for two-way local communication radio towers (as discussed in Section 9-15B3.

If the communication tower is placed on top of an existing structure it may extend above the height of that structure by no greater than twenty (20) feet in all residential zones (except R-A) and fifty (50) feet in all other zoning districts.

D.     Minimum setbacks. Minimum setbacks, as herein indicated, shall be measured from the base of the tower. If a tower is to be placed on a leased portion of a lot which is owned by someone other than the tower owner, setbacks shall be measured from the boundaries of said lot.

  1.  No additional setbacks shall be required if the tower is to be placed on an existing structure.
  2.  In all office, commercial, and industrial districts and the RLD district, a minimum setback of forty (40) feet from any adjoining lot line shall be required, unless the lot line separates the lot from a residential district (except RLD) or a lot containing a residential use. In such instances, a minimum setback of two hundred (200) feet from such residential district or a lot containing a residential use shall be required unless the tower is affixed to an existing structure or a waiver is granted by the Planning Commission or City Council.
  3.  Maximum setbacks of monopole, two-way local communication radio towers are discussed in Section 9-15B3.
  4.  Minimum lot size for any communication tower which is a principal use shall be ten thousand (10,000) square feet.

D.     Buffering/materials. Buffering shall be required for all communication towers which are freestanding structures. Such landscaping shall not be required when the tower is physically placed within another structure or when incorporated within another structure (e.g., church steeple).

A type D buffer shall be required when a freestanding communication tower is placed in a residential, except RLD, office, C-1, CBD, and TMU zoning district. A type C buffer shall be required for freestanding communication towers in all other zoning districts.

Irrespective of all minimum screening requirements, towers shall be screened with trees so as to minimize the sight impact from surrounding residences. All towers shall not be obtrusive in the neighborhoods in which they are located and shall be constructed of materials so as to have an external finish which renders them compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.

The planning director, or Planning Commission or City Council (through the issuance of a conditional use permit) may waive any or all of these screening requirements upon a finding that the existing topography or existing screening materials on site screen the property as effectively as the screening which ordinarily would be required; or that the installation of new screening materials would be impractical or would serve no useful purpose (such waiver may also include situations when the type of nonresidential adjoining use would not warrant screening); provided, however, that the spirit and intent of this section is preserved. This shall not be construed to relieve the requirement of establishing screening for towers to be located adjacent to vacant properties or along any public street.

F.     Conditional use permit procedures. The Planning Commission and City Council shall generally follow the procedures found in Section 5.11 in deciding whether to issue a conditional use permit for a communication tower, with the following exceptions:

  1. Prior to issuing a conditional use permit, the Planning Commission or City Council shall make, in addition the findings found in Section 5.11, the following findings:

a.   The tower will not interfere with the FAA Part 77 surfaces surrounding the Gastonia Municipal Airport or affect the radio and navigational signals of the operating ground and airborne equipment in the vicinity of the airport.

b.   If the proposed tower is to be located in a residential zone, except RLD, the applicant has provided substantial evidence that the tower cannot feasibly be located upon an existing wireless support structure or structures within the applicant's search ring (as those terms are defined in G.S. 160A-400.51) or, if the proposed tower is to be located in a residential zone, except RLD, it will be housed within or upon a special structure which will be compatible architecturally with the surrounding residential area. (Note: These findings shall only be applicable in a residential zone, except RLD).

The term "architecturally compatible," as herein used, shall mean "adequately disguised by the structure on which the antenna is located so as to disguise or camouflage the tower in such manner so that the structure housing the tower takes on the appearance of a structure other than a communication tower." In addition, "the design and materials used on the structure and its exterior materials blend harmoniously with the buildings and use of the host sight."

In no case shall the height of said communication tower exceed one hundred fifty (150) feet.

2.  The Planning Commission or City Council, in issuing a conditional use permit, may waive all or portions of the screening and/or landscape requirements when a tower is located in or on a new special structure which is architecturally compatible with the surrounding area.

G.     Discontinuance of tower. If at any time after the effective date of this Ordinance a communication tower becomes unused for cellular transmission purposes, the tower shall be removed within one year of the date of discontinuance.

H     Communication tower, combined. The City Council finds it to be in the public interest to encourage the co-location on the same tower of multiple wireless telephone service providers or co-location of public safety communication with wireless telephone service providers. The City Council further finds that the wireless telephone industry is growing and the number of service providers is so increasing that co-location between providers must be achieved if the community is to avoid a proliferation of tall communication towers. The City Council also finds that the policies of the Federal Communication Commission necessitate the city to establish multiple transmission tower locations for the purpose of public safety communications, causing significant public costs as well as aesthetic degradation of the community. Furthermore, the City Council finds that the location of wireless telephone and public safety communication tower facilities on public property, where they are so designed for co-location of at least three (3) users on the same tower, produces an outcome more preferable to the public than single users on single sites due to: (i) a greater degree of co-location being achieved; (ii) a greater control of siting with respect to surrounding land uses and a mitigation of aesthetic harm being achieved; (iii) increased opportunities for tower-sharing for public safety communication being achieved; and (iv) public benefits from the rent being paid to the city by the tower user.

Accordingly, the following performance criteria are placed on combined communication towers:

  1.  Irrespective of property ownership, a communication tower may not be located in an historic overlay district.
  2.  The tower shall be of a monopole design or be housed within or upon a "special structure" designed to appear like something other than a communications tower and be aesthetically suitable for the site; provided, however, that the City Council, in approving the ground lease and public safety communications use agreement, may approve a lattice-type tower if it determines that a lattice type design is necessary to accommodate the transmission and/or reception needs of the city public safety communications. If a "special structure" is used, the City Council shall determine that the suitability of such special structure in approving the ground lease. In so doing, it shall consider the natural and built characteristics and public use (existing and proposed) of the particular site and surrounding land uses, as well as the need for height and co-location capability. Examples of such special structures include bell towers, athletic field lighting, structures for flying flags, and towers disguised as trees. Design information, certified by a registered professional engineer, must be submitted to the planning department showing how all of the potential multiple users will be accommodated on the pole.
  3.  If there is an existing (including built or permitted and not yet constructed) tower within the applicant's search ring, the applicant for the proposed tower shall prove to the Planning Commission that the applicant's antennae facilities cannot feasibly be accommodated on said existing tower.
  4.  From a residentially zoned parcel which may or may not adjoin the subject property and which is not owned by the city, used for governmental purposes, or public utility purposes, the required setback shall be two hundred (200) feet from the base of the tower. Setbacks from all other property lines not owned by the city shall be forty (40) feet. Any of the above setbacks may be waived up to fifty (50) percent by the City Council provided that the greatest degree of separation from residentially zoned properties is maintained.
  5.  In lieu of the screening and landscaping standards contained in Chapter 11, the following standards for combined communication towers shall apply:

a.  Within, or where adjoining, a residential district or between the tower and a thoroughfare (as designated on the most recently adopted version of the thoroughfare plan): A 20-foot wide planted buffer consisting of tall growing evergreen trees, such as Leyland Cypress, Tree Holly, Magnolia Grandiflora, or Deodar Cedar, which are at least eight (8) feet in height at time of planting, and with spacing approved by the planning director so as to best provide for opacity after five (5) years of growth.

b.  For all other situations: A ten-foot wide planted buffer shall be required according to the standards contained in Section 9-15H5(a).

c.  Plants shall be installed and maintained by the tower owner in accordance with Section 11.2.2E.

d.  Modifications to the buffer requirements may be made by the planning director in situations where there are existing plants and terrain features that can help provide a buffer. In such cases, a plan enhancing such existing features for performance which equals or betters what normally would be expected from a newly planted buffer after five (5) years of growth may be approved by the planning director.

e.  The City Council may partially or totally waive any buffer requirement in situations where a "special structure" is used or where such waiver is necessary to accommodate city public safety communications, provided the base of the tower is screened from view from any adjoining street by either a brick, stone, or decorative masonry wall at least eight (8) feet in height, a principal building on the site, or any combination thereof.

f.  The tower shall have at least one wireless telephone service provider or a city public safety communications tower committed for active use within ninety (90) days of completion of construction. Evidence of writing of commitment for such use shall be submitted with the site plan.

g.  A site plan shall be submitted and approved, in accordance with Section 5.2 prior to issuance of a zoning permit.

h.  If a tower remains unused for wireless telephone paging services or public safety communications for a continuous period of one year, the tower shall then be removed by the tower owner.

I.     Eligible facilities request. The City shall approve an eligible facilities request, which shall be defined as a request for a modification of an existing communication tower or base station that involves collocation of new transmission equipment or replacement of transmission equipment but does not include a substantial modification, provided that the application for such eligible facilities request is complete. A substantial modification for purposes of this section shall be defined as set forth in G.S. 160A-400.51.

(Ord. No. 13-628, § 16, 11-19-13)

 
 

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