Gargantuan radio tower prompts outcry in Macon County

Town and county leaders will meet with the N.C. Highway Patrol this week in Franklin to discuss where in Macon County the state agency can build a radio tower.

Something of a brouhaha erupted last week after town leaders learned the Highway Patrol planned to erect the 471-feet structure — that’s 111 feet longer than Franklin High School’s football field — on the town’s outskirts. Alderman Bob Scott, between fussing about the tower’s proposed location being in a residential area and possibly within the flight path into the county airport, joked that perhaps town workers could festoon the tower with Christmas lights come December.

Other town leaders also complained about the site, and took their concerns to county commissioners for support.

Town Manager Sam Greenwood said Tuesday the Highway Patrol seemed open to considering alternative sites. A meeting has been scheduled for Thursday. Last week, Sgt. Jorge Brewer, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol who is based in Raleigh, said the state agency was aware of concern about the proposed location.

If built where currently sited, the tower would be on state Department of Transportation-owned property on Ivar Street just off N.C. 28.

In a letter written late last month to the Highway Patrol, Franklin Land-Use Administrator Michael Grubermann noted “there are no less than 18 occupied residential buildings within a 470-foot fall zone from that specific location … there is a concern of ice-sheet fall from the towers to the structures below. The elevation and location of the site with the height of the tower itself will promote ice accumulation during snowfalls and sleet.”

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