Plans on hold for cell phone towers in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem’s General Government Committee decided Tuesday evening that a proposal to allow cell phone towers in residential areas needed to be explored further before heading to city council for a final vote.

City staff members were directed to do additional research on several questions raised by the committee.

They were urged to also work with both supporters and opponents of the proposal to identify any unresolved issues.

AT&T and the American Tower Company are pushing for a revised ordinance that relaxes cell tower regulations.

Current ordinance does not allow towers in most residential neighborhoods, including single-family areas.

The companies say the growing use of smart phones and data have strained the current system. To handle the increase and meet demand, new towers must be placed strategically around the city according to the proposal.

The request has been met with strong opposition from neighbors and neighborhood associations in Winston-Salem that worry about the potential impact on property values.

As a result, the original proposal was revised to include increased setback distance between towers and homes, land-size restrictions and also required community meetings prior to any official public hearings.

The city-county planning board, which approved the plan, says the revised proposal provides better safeguards for neighbors.

The proposal will be discussed again at the committee’s January meeting.

The City Attorney told the committee Tuesday evening that city council will need to hold a public hearing by February.

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