Corinth aldermen rejected a zoning variance this week that would have allowed Verizon Wireless to erect a new cellular tower on Sara Lane.

The company’s desire to boost service in the area collided with concerns about the aesthetics of the tower.

“My main concern is that it’s 260 feet and it’s within 300 feet of Highway 72 on a main corridor into Corinth,” Ward 2 Alderman Ben Albarracin said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. “It just is not going to look aesthetically pleasing at that height.”

Ward 3 Aldermen Chip Wood agreed, noting the short distance to an apartment complex.

Attorney Andrew Rotenstreich, representing Verizon, described the proposed location as an empty lot immediately behind the rebuilt Mapco gas station. The property is zoned C-2, which allows towers but accommodates a height of no more than 50 feet. Verizon proposed a three-legged 250-foot tower topped by a 10-foot lightning rod.

Rotenstreich said Verizon is looking to increase coverage and capacity in Corinth. This tower was intended to improve coverage for the east side as Verizon works toward eventually covering all of Corinth.

“The reason we need that height,” he said, “is because we’re trying to get signal to make sure we’re covering the residences, businesses and travelers on that side of town.”

The elevation was the hardship justification for the variance.

“If the ground elevation was higher on this property then we could build a lower tower,” said Rotenstreich. “The signal dictates where we need to be and how high we need to be. … We’re not asking for more than we need.”

While boosting coverage area, the tower would also ease congestion locally in the Verizon network.

“If you’ve ever experienced dropped calls or fast busy signals, things like that, that means the tower you are connected to is overloaded,” said Rotenstreich. “We’re trying to relieve that.”

He said Verizon was also interested in a site on South Harper Road near Long Lewis Ford, but that location became unavailable. An existing tower located about a third of a mile south of the Sara Lane location is too far out of range. The company looks to use existing towers when possible, he said.

Competitors of Verizon would also have been able to place antennas on the new tower.

The board voted unanimously to reject the variance. The city’s board of adjustments recommended denial of the variance, citing safety and aesthetic concerns.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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