Ocean City Today

New radio antenna could be placed in Mystic Harbour

Receiver too tall for water tower, declared county job to sidestep zoning concern
By Brian Gilliland | Jul 13, 2017
This photo is used for illustrative purposes only. The final tower might look very different than this picture. No design representation was made in public before the county commissioners.

(July 14, 2017) Facing the same concerns they had when they approved the expansion of the Mystic Harbour Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2010, the Worcester County Commissioners are considering declaring the installation of a 141-foot-tall radio antenna in West Ocean City a county project to exempt it from zoning regulations.

Emergency Services Director Fred Webster said he has been working toward a better solution than the equipment currently placed atop the Mystic Harbour water tower, a common installation point for communications gear in the county.

The new tower is an attempt to fix dead zones in the area, where cellphone and internet connectivity is spotty.

The original plan was to replace the equipment on top of the tower but the water tower itself is already at the maximum allowable height by the Maryland Aviation Administration. Mystic Harbour is located close to the Ocean City Airport off Route 611.

“The only reasonable solution is to construct a new communications tower on the county-owned property at the site of the Mystic Harbour Wastewater Treatment Plant,” Webster wrote in a memo to the board.

The problem, Webster said, is there is no place on the site he could build the tower that wouldn’t run afoul of the county’s zoning code with regards to setbacks and separation requirements.

The easiest solution, Webster said, is to declare the tower installation a county project, thereby bypassing the code altogether.

“How many people live next to this,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic asked.

“Quite a few,” with a number of dwellings located on the eastern side of the plant, said Ed Tudor, development review and permitting director.

Though not strictly required to, the commissioners decided to send notifications to the adjacent property owners, and to hold a public hearing on the matter during its Aug. 15 meeting in Snow Hill.

Even with the declaration suspending zoning requirements, the project must still go before the county’s planning commission and get a favorable review from that board before it returns to the county commissioners for final approval.

The commissioners voted unanimously to support the project.

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