The council was split in the decision, and Mayor Jere Wood had to break the tie. Council members Kent Igleheart, Betty Price and Jerry Orlans voted in opposition, wanting to defer the vote to get more information about possible alternatives to the proposed tower at that site.
Neighbors from Twelvestones also asked council to defer the vote.
“You don’t have enough information to make an educated vote,” said resident Susan Booth.
She said the tower would be a direct assault to the values of properties nearby.
Councilwoman Becky Wynn said although it was not an easy decision, she believed there had been enough waiting and plenty of information and options had been presented to council. The radio tower will be part of the new North Fulton Regional Radio System and used by first responders to provide vital public safety to residents.
“Every day that we delay, our first responders are in danger,” she said. “This is not just for first responders. This is for the safety for everybody that’s in Roswell.”
Roswell Police Chief Rusty Grant said the current radio system failed three times during Labor Day weekend.
“It failed 11 times in the last 12 months,” he said.
Grant said the system is failing at a more frequent rate.
Councilwoman Nancy Diamond said council has spent countless hours mulling the decision.
“This is not something we just rushed into because we love spending money and upsetting our citizens,” she said.
Councilman Rich Dippolito said the changes to the Fouts Road plan are better than what was first proposed — a 400-foot tower near the road. The agreed upon height is for the tower not to exceed 350 feet and the location was pushed back from right by the road to closer to the park.
“I would like to see [the height] lowered,” he said. “I just don’t see it as possible.”
Chuck Bethea, vice president of operations at telecommunications consulting firm Commdex, presented the council with multiple scenarios for if the tower were shorter or relocated. He said a 200-foot tower would require two additional towers and there could still be areas that would experience issues with connectivity. Relocating the tower would present construction problems that would likely raise costs, Bethea said.
“[The 350-foot tower on Fouts Road] is better coverage and better for the public safety,” he said.