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County Council rejects request for cell tower off Penny Royal Lane

The St. Charles County Commission turned down a conditional use permit request for a proposed 190-foot-tall communications tower in an unincorporated area near Wentzville. The project was strongly opposed by nearby residents.

At its July 28 meeting, the council voted 6-0, with Councilman John White (District 7) absent, against granting the permit for the tower to be placed on a 13-acre site at 1834 Penny Royal Lane, about 2,100 feet north of Hwy. N.

“The fact is that these things are pollution to the environment in my view, especially in a rural area, and that is a pretty rural area,” said Councilman Joe Brazil (District 2). “I think these things are hideous. I live in a rural area too and I have to look at a tower and I can’t stand it when I see it.”

He said the only people benefiting from the tower appear to be the property owners and added that no one living nearby wants the tower.

“They (towers) do affect property values. Anybody who says they don’t is just insane,” Brazil said.

But property owners David H. and Mary Klee, and Linda Merkel, an attorney representing AT&T, who wants to put up the tower, presented studies to the council that said property values are not affected. David said electrical lines may be just as detrimental and cell towers are not that intrusive.

The Klees and Merkel also presented other studies suggesting that cell towers do not pose a health or cancer risk. David said cell phones may emit more radiation than a cell tower.

Merkel said the property owners hope to combine parcels within their 13-acre property to meet county setback requirements for the tower.

“We ask that you might let us have this cell tower on our property so my children and my neighbor’s children don’t have to say ‘can you hear me now.’”

But some of those neighbors were skeptical and opposed the tower.

“I don’t know who they got their information from, but anyone with any common sense knows that this devalues property,” said Kirk Russell, an adjacent property owner who spoke against the permit.

His property is for sale, he said. Susan Russell, his wife, said they were told by a realtor that their property values would be lowered.

“Who wants a 190-foot tower in their yard?” she asked.

“I don’t see how you can approve this in a residential area, there are plenty of other places around close that can be out in the middle of nowhere to put up a tower,” Kirk said.

The county’s planning and zoning commission voted 8-0 on June 18 to recommend denial by the council.

Councilman Joe Cronin (District 1) said it was important to note that the tower didn’t meet the county’s setback requirements for telecommunications towers.

Councilman Donald Hammond (District 4), the council’s representative on the planning and zoning commission, voted against recommending the permit.

He said nearby residents had few reception complaints. Another potential tower location was nearby, he said.

“They (AT&T) couldn’t answer why they needed a tower there,” Hammond said.

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