Communications Tower Could Come To White Flint By September

Washington Gas Company's Nebel Street propertyA 145-foot communications tower Washington Gas is planning for its Nebel Street property could be up by September.

Some residents and developers expressed concern that a communications tower on the edge of the massive redevelopment efforts underway in White Flint could serve as an eyesore.

Across Nebel Street from Washington Gas’ property, construction continues on a 18-story, 341-unit apartment building. A plan for a trio if 300-foot residential towers along Rockville Pike, a few blocks west of the property, is in the pipeline.

During a meeting on Tuesday of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, residents, developers and nearby business owners seemed satisfied with the utility company’s plan for a monopole that would be installed about as far from the street as possible.

The tower proposal will likely go to the county’s Tower Committee in July for an engineering review. But because Washington Gas’ property is zoned industrial, there appears to be little surrounding developers or neighbors could do if they weren’t satisfied with it.

Washington Gas officials Orlando Spencer and Mike Marsters explained the communications tower was necessary to provide for internal communications and data transfer in case the company needed to shut off a valve with a leak or another safety issue popped up. The tower must be in the line of sight of other towers in the network, including one in Rockville.

The company could, however, lease out antenna capability to cell phone companies or other groups. Marsters estimated Washington Gas would use about 30 percent of the capability provided by three sets of cellular antennas installed on the tower.

Marsters also acknowledged there is a possibility Washington Gas would have to move the tower in case nearby development blocked its ability to communicate with others in the network. After some coordination with the county, Marserts and Spencer found there is no project in the current pipeline that would block that communication.

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