Residents of the Mount Ulla community on the Rowan-Iredell county line have staved off another attempt to have a broadcast tower placed in their farming community.
But the president and primary owner of the broadcasting company that wants the tower there said he isn't giving up quite yet.
Greeley Hilton, president of Lexington-based Davidson County Broadcasting Co. Inc., said Mooresville lost an economic development opportunity by refusing last week to annex the Rowan County land where he intends to place the tower.
Greeley said he would have moved his entire broadcasting operations to Mooresville, bringing 20 jobs. The company owns WTHZ (94.1 FM).
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He told the Observer that he will now seek a tower permit again with the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, which has new members since it denied a permit to Davidson County Broadcasting previously.
The company wants to place the 1,200-foot tower on 18 acres owned by Richard and Dorcas Parker of 155 Parkers Loop off N.C. 801. The Parkers couldn't be reached last week.
Commissioner Miles Atkins made the motion to reject the couple's annexation request. The board then voted unanimously against the annexation.
Atkins said Mooresville tries to avoid "spot zoning," in this case, a parcel that's 2.26 miles from the town limits.
Mooresville also didn't want to overrule a neighboring county's previous decision on the tower, Atkins said.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners had cited concerns over the proximity of Miller Air Park, a grass-strip runway along N.C. 150 near the Iredell County line.
The N.C. Court of Appeals and the N.C. Supreme Court upheld the Rowan County board's decision to reject the permit.
About 35 Rowan County residents packed Monday night's Mooresville meeting, all protesting the proposed annexation. The Parkers and Hilton didn't attend the meeting.
"A tower as tall as the Empire State Building does not fit harmoniously in the heart of Mount Ulla," resident Marian Rollins told the board. The Empire State Building is 1,454 feet tall.
Rowan County commissioner Tina Hall said her board has supported the residents in their fight, but it's the residents who should be lauded.
"It's their victory," Hall said outside Mooresville Town Hall after the Mooresville board's vote.
Residents said they've fought the tower plans since 2003 before various governing boards in the two counties and expect they'll have to do so again.