Despite Lakeforest Glen residents’ objections to a new Verizon Wireless facility that would “rule the air” in their Gaithersburg neighborhood, the city Board of Appeals adopted a resolution Friday that approves its construction.
“They reviewed a resolution, and it will be signed [by the board chair] sometime this week,” said Trudy Schwarz, the city’s community planning director, who added that some minor changes were made to the resolution.
Schwarz said Verizon still needs a building permit and will need to comply with certain conditions, which she said she could not specify before the resolution had been finalized.
A group of residents, however, says the facility would be an eyesore and take way green space from the community. The company would add new antennas on an existing tower that would be made 10 feet taller and build an 360 square-foot equipment shelter near the entrance to their community.
“Residents who live in the housing development will have a direct view,” said Mary Anne Clark, president of the Lakeforest Glen Homeowners Association, who added that housing values could also be affected by what she called the “bunker-like structure.”
She said the association will continue fighting the facility’s construction at the selected location just off the intersection of Travis Avenue and Travis View Court.
“The HOA will be reviewing the final resolution and considering it further and appealing it in court,” Clark said.
She also said Verizon would not consider nearby alternative locations.
“They just dug in their heels,” Clark said.
Clark said the board had decided in Verizon’s favor in the past, but the company did not construct the facility within a certain timeframe.
This time, she said, “the HOA is a lot more prepared.”
“Verizon Wireless reviewed multiple locations in the area and selected this existing Pepco transmission tower because it provided the best coverage for the area with the least overall impact,” Melanie Ortel, a Verizon Wireless spokesperson, said in an email.
“While there was a very small contingent within the Lakeforest Glen community who opposed our plans, we listened to their concerns and made adjustments,” she said. One example she cited was that the shed will be built with bricks and landscaped with bushes and a shrubbery.
Ortel said that the company does not think the additions will hurt property values, and that people would rather find the neighborhood’s speedy broadband service attractive.