Concord residents fight scheduled 180-foot radio tower near homes

- The City of Concord is planning to drop a 180-foot radio tower near the Covington neighborhood, and residents are putting up a fight.

“To me, it’s an eyesore,” resident Jimie Maley said.

The radio tower would be used for emergency communications– police, fire and EMS. The city claims there are “dead spots” in areas of Cabarrus County and the 180-foot tower would replace a shorter tower, which is currently sitting in a different part of town, that is insufficient for communication.

“Not being able to communicate when you need to can be deadly,” Concord Deputy City Manager Merl Hamilton said.

The Covington neighborhood is most concerned about how the tower will affect property values on hundreds of nearby homes.

“We have houses that back up right to it in this development,” Maley said.

Concord has hired an outside appraiser to assess what, if any, impact the tower will have on the neighborhood.

“I think what I said was if the appraisals come back with a significant problem with their property values that, with a clear conscious, I was going to have a problem recommending it,” Hamilton said. “But I also told them the caveat, I’ve had a lot of hard decisions in my career and we’ll make another one, if needed.”

Covington residents have argued that the city is using a commercial appraiser from Hickory instead of a residential appraiser from Concord or Cabarrus County.

“It would be very devastating [to our home values],” resident and realtor Marie Skelnik said. “When you come into a community or house with a huge tower…something that looks commercial, industrial…[prospective buyers] turn in and they turn right out.”

The city said it’s taking their property value concerns seriously.

“We already did one [appraisal] which showed no property impact,” Hamilton. “I agreed to do another one because it’s very serious to those folks and very serious to us.

“It’s a very tough situation. That is a great neighborhood. The concerns that the neighbors have, I sympathize with those. I think some of that is misunderstanding…I have their concerns and then I have the safety of the community where police, fire and EMS will not be able to deliver the service that they need to deliver, so it’s a tough balance.”

The plot of land near Covington, where the tower is scheduled to go, is Concord Fire Department No. 5. The city owns the land, so it’s an affordable option.

“We need an area that is tall enough, the ground is high enough, the ground is where you can put a tower and we can possess the property,” Hamilton said.

The tower is scheduled to go up this summer, but the city has not ruled out backing away from the project.

Residents want to make sure the city has considered all options before dropping the tower near their homes.

“I look right out my window and I will see the tower,” resident Lee Hill said.

Covington residents said they are debating legal action if the tower is constructed.

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