Updated July 2019
AT&T continues to work towards a digital transformation that requires reliable connectivity and continual improvements to our network. This new cell site will offer customers in the area better voice and mobile broadband service.
We always work closely with community leaders in Virginia and nationwide whenever we need to construct new sites. And, we comply with all local, state and federal rules.
We will work closely with local officials not only to meet the requirements the law, but also to address other questions that emerge as the process evolves. We often work with local residents to keep them apprised of our plans, address any concerns, and answer their questions.
We created this FAQ page to be a resource for you.
Why does AT&T need this cell tower?
AT&T needs this cell site to enhance voice and mobile broadband coverage for our customers and prepare for future technology such as 5G, which is significantly faster and more capable than today’s networks. Specifically, this new cell site will help:
◊ Provide vital connections for the community’s first responders.
◊ Support small, family-owned businesses – from wineries and restaurants to local farms to home-based businesses - that need mobile internet connections.
◊ Enhance the quality of life in the community because of better wireless network capabilities.
◊ Enable other telecommunications companies to add equipment to this new infrastructure to provide enhanced services to their customers.
In short, anyone who lives in, works in, or visits the area will benefit from better voice and broadband coverage.
What's the latest with this project?
AT&T to conduct visual impact survey at Short Hill
AT&T continues to work towards a digital transformation that requires reliable connectivity and continual improvements to our network. This new cell site will provide voice and mobile broadband services for AT&T customers and first responders, and will include space for at least two additional wireless carriers. We have been working with local officials not only to meet the legal requirements, but to minimize any visual impact and address other questions that have emerged as the process evolves. After hearing from community leaders and area residents, AT&T has reduced the height of the proposed structure to 125 feet, which is 30 feet lower than the original 155 feet tall proposal.
AT&T will be conducting a crane test and visual impact survey on July 23, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. We will bring in a large construction crane, raise it to a height of 125 feet at the location of the proposed cell site, and then drive in another vehicle through and around the surrounding areas to assess and document (with photographs) the visual impact of the crane. This will allow us to simulate the visual impact of the proposed cell site. AT&T will share the results with relevant federal, state, and local officials and include them as part of our application to Loudoun County.
What’s the size of this proposed tower?
The proposed cell site will be located on a portion of the AT&T-owned property and include a 50’ x 50’ compound with a 155’ tall monopole (single pole), surrounded by a 6’ tall fence. Other cabinets in the compound would be approximately 8’ x 8’ x 10’ tall. The proposed site will enable AT&T to add and improve wireless services and accommodate antennas and equipment from at least 2 other wireless carriers (and possibly more).
This proposed facility will take up approximately 50’ x 50’. In fact, the footprint of the new site will be much smaller than the large transmission dishes that were on the property for decades and were in use until recently. The large transmission dishes were affixed to two large steel and concrete towers with lighted beacons and other markings. Those towers could be seen clearly from as far away as Charles Town, WV. The towers were removed several years ago, and we recycled more than 890,000 pounds of steel and the large concrete pods, grinding the concrete into gravel that is used for other landscaping projects on the property.
As with every proposed cell site, we are following the approval process set up by Loudoun County’s leaders.
Why is a tower this size necessary at this location?
This new site is technically known as a “macro” site. Macros cells are the foundation of the capacity and wide-ranging coverage that today’s consumers demand. They are the most fundamental building blocks needed to enable text, voice and high-speed mobile internet.
Macro cells have been constructed in many different sizes, configurations and heights. Some macro cells may incorporate techniques to hide the antennas from normal view or may be camouflaged as trees or other structures to blend in with the surrounding area. Macro cells are effective for covering large geographic areas, especially in rural situations, with relatively high capacity, because they tend to use lower range spectrum frequencies, which travel further than the high frequency spectrum typically used by smaller cell technologies. Based on their reach, macro cells provide the largest area of wireless network coverage with the fewest number of sites.
What has AT&T done so far?
The very first step in the approval process was a “pre application” meeting with Loudoun County officials. This took place in early April. AT&T representatives met with county zoning and planning officials to provide a general overview of the proposed site and answer any questions.
In May 2018, AT&T conducted a visual impact survey, and “balloon test” that allowed us to see any visual impact from various vantage points, and then create photo simulations of the proposed monopole, or tower.
We also held a community meeting in Lovettsville, on May 10, 2018, where we shared details about the proposal, including the results of the visual impact survey, and answered many questions or concerns the attendees had.
Our team also has participated in individual meetings with local residents, business owners, community groups and others to discuss AT&T’s plans and solicit feedback.
We are finalizing an environmental assessment that’s required under the law, and we expect to file our completed application with the Loudoun County Planning Commission very soon.
Once we submit our application, the commission will have to review before sending it to the Board of Supervisors for a review and approval. The Board will schedule a public hearing that will allow AT&T to provide an overview of the plan. The public also will be able to testify.
If you have any questions, contact us at email@example.com.
Will you be clearing land?
No. The new site will be constructed on an open portion of AT&T’s property. The project is not expected to entail any additional clearing or grading; development will not encroach into the sensitive mountain soil areas. The remaining acreage will remain wooded and in its natural state. We will add screening to fill in gaps where existing vegetation will not screen the site.
During the past few years, we’ve worked with the Loudoun County Arborist/Urban Forester on our landscaping plans for the property. Over the past two years, we hired local contractors and invested almost $700,000 on several outdoor projects, including:
◊ We worked with a Loudoun-based contractor to improve water runoff/drainage throughout the property.
◊ After consulting with the Loudoun County Arborist/Urban Forester and professional landscape architects, we removed several dead, damaged and invasive trees.
◊ We planted new native trees and plants in spring 2018. Later in the year, we had to replace some trees that didn’t thrive over the summer.
When will service on the new tower be available?
The availability of service on the new tower depends, in part, on how quickly the plans are approved the appropriate government agencies. In addition to local zoning and permitting review from the county, sites often require review by other agencies at the local, state and federal level, such as the FAA, FCC and the State and Tribal Historical Preservation Offices. Once all of this is complete, AT&T can build the site and commission it for service. End-to-end cycle times vary greatly and are heavily influenced by the planning and permitting process of the local jurisdiction. At this point, we anticipate a timeline of approximately one year from the application submission to service availability.
Will you camouflage the site?
Our proposal includes a plan to “stealth” the monopole, or tower. We’ve learned that the standard gray finish is best. However we will discuss options with county officials as the process evolves.
Will there be public meetings?
Yes. As noted above, our meeting is May 10, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. In addition to posting on this web site, we also shared it through other channels, including the supervisors’ offices and direct mail to nearby residents. There will also be public meetings and hearings before County decision makers. The county sets the schedule for these meetings and hearings.