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Communication tower issue tabled for now in Ballwin

The Ballwin Board of Aldermen was predictably in agreement regarding the first two areas of legislation at its July 27 meeting. The vote was unanimous on adding Fred Kemp Court for public maintenance by the city, and for adding a stop sign on Ballwin Manor Drive approaching Manchester. But the final item of legislation (Bill 4067), which was read as “An ordinance granting a special use exception to Network Real Estate on behalf of AT&T Mobility for a communications tower at 15407 Clayton Road,” did not pass easily.

“I noticed in the minutes that Alderman Roach (Ward 2), our aldermanic representative on Planning and Zoning, had some questions,” Alderman Michael Finley (Ward 1) said, in regard to Bill 4067. “I wanted to see if he had anything to say, or if he could shed some light on that.”

Finley was referring to Roach’s comments during a July 6 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting when a public hearing on the special use exception was held.

Despite the proposed tower’s address being in Roach’s ward, he was hesitant to make much of a public comment. But Finley mentioned a possible concern regarding the public health and safety from the tower’s 5G aspect. The tower’s location, at 15407 Clayton Road, is in the vicinity of the Clayton-Kehrs Mill intersection.

Approximate location of 15407 Clayton Road
Approximate location of 15407 Clayton Road (Source: Google Earth)

“We have a representative from the company in attendance,” City Administrator Bob Kuntz said. “If you want to direct your attention, he can come to the podium, but I think those issues were resolved to his satisfaction. Correct?”

Matt Schlichter, representing Network Real Estate, LLC, then gave a brief assessment of 5G and the frequencies that the tower would emit, as well as how it was regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Nevertheless, when a vote was called Roach voted “nay” and Alderman Jim Leahy (Ward 3) abstained due to his brother being an AT&T employee.

Alderman Frank Fleming, (Ward 3), who ran the board meeting in the absence of Mayor Tim Pogue, explained that with those votes the item would be held over until the board’s next meeting on Aug. 24.

Kuntz concurred with that procedural assessment after Schlichter inquired, “Is there a concern I can address tonight?”

“If there’s anything you want our staff to know, I would say, definitely work with the staff and make sure any concerns can be addressed before the next meeting,” Fleming said. “These towers – the FCC generally governs them, and there’s not a lot of influence that we have, but certainly, if there are any concerns, you can tell the staff, and hopefully, we can get them straightened out before the next meeting.”

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