County objects to cell tower

Having no ruling issued by  Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) officials regarding a proposed cell phone tower in protected air space northwest of the Neil Armstrong Airport is perplexing, the airport manager says.

During a meeting Thursday with the Auglaize County commissioners, Airport Manager Sean Stroh said he will continue to voice the county’s objections to a cell phone tower within a 4-mile radius of the airport because it would effect planes taking off and landing at the airport now and if the airport expanded in the future. The airport is east of the village of New Knoxville.

“Our basic concern is we have a FAA Part 77 which is a regulation as far as height requirements around the airport and this particular tower at its current proposed height is penetrating that surface by 70 feet,” Stroh said. “The FAA has made a preliminary determination that it should not have any adverse effect on air traffic coming and going from this facility, but we are still objecting and opposing this cellphone tower because it does penetrate our air space.

“While we know it may not affect anything currently at the facility, if anything changes or safety standards are increased over time, it could become a huge issue for the facility down the road,” the airport manager told the Wapakoneta Daily News.

Stroh explained those changes could include airport or runway expansion or if a different class of more powerful aircraft starts to use the airport more frequently. These aircraft would require a longer take-off and landing approach path.

He also explained while this area is just outside the flight restrictive area for height, it is still within a secondary height restriction area established by the FAA for planes trying to takeoff and land if there is bad weather.

The flight restrictive area has a set height restriction, while the secondary flight restriction area is shaped “like a bowl” where the farther away from the airport the higher a structure can be constructed and still be in compliance.

During the meeting at the airport, Stroh told the commissioners a state permit is required and the FAA has not released the permit for construction of the tower. They are waiting for objections to be filed, which Stroh has done.

They could move the tower outside the 4-mile radius to restrict the height of the structure.

Stroh said the tower would be in violation of the airport zoning code and regulations and a variance would have to go through the commissioners’ office.

The zoning board consists of the Auglaize County and the Shelby County commissioners. If the variance is denied, the matter would go to the Airport Zoning Board of Appeals.

Stroh said he would contact Rick Grice, a consultant with Delta Airport Consultants, of Rocky River. Delta consultants helped develop the code and have a copy of the zoning code regulations.