Kingsmill cell towers to move forward
Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg), 2014-02-18
Feb. 18--JAMES CITY -- After seven years, a lawsuit and a federal archaeological review, Verizon and AT&T have been issued a land disturbing permit for two cell towers in Kingsmill.
The permit was issued Feb. 12, explained Joe Burchite, inspector supervisor with James City's Engineering & Resource Protection Division.
The cell towers at Kingsmill's soccer field have long been mired in controversy, court cases and then archaeological review. The last news was three years ago, when the Federal Communications Commission held a public hearing about the site's historic resources.
In the intervening years, AT&T and Verizon brokered an agreement with the FCC, Virginia's Department of Historic Resources, and opponents Kingsmill Wireless Communication Advocacy Group to address the effect the two 120-foot monopine towers will have on the site.
More than 1,680 artifacts have been recovered from the area, according to the 43-page agreement and report, including ceramic shards, wire nails, a shoe upper and personal objects.
Portions of two buildings have also been found, suggesting slave quarters, overseers, tenant farmers or a mix, according to the report. The site qualifies for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
"The combined results of survey and evaluation...indicate that the site possesses sufficient integrity and research potential to provide significant and previously undocumented information relating to the mid-18th through 19th-century occupation of historic Kingsmill Plantation," the report notes.
As part of the agreement, Verizon and AT&T must complete a phase III archaeological survey with a recovery plan.
The telecom companies must also schedule a visitation day to announce findings to the public and the press as well as offering guided tours during recovery excavations.
Ultimately, they must exhibit the artifacts for at least six months and publish both a brochure and a website explaining the work and its findings.
David Neiman of the Kingsmill Wireless Communication Advocacy Group said Friday that no options remain for fighting the towers.
But the group was not unsuccessful, he said. "When this came down, the only types of towers that could be considered for residential areas were camouflaged towers," he said, meaning fake pine tree towers. Since then, the county has agreed to allow monopole towers, sometimes called slick sticks.
"We felt it was good for other residents in the county. If this comes up again, they'll have the option of slick sticks. So that was a minor victory."
Similar towers will also require a special use permit from the Board of Supervisors rather than sole review by the county's planning director.
Langley can be reached by phone at 757-345-2346.
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