After an angry reception from residents of Cascades, a representative from the Vienna company that wants to build a telecommunications monopole next to the Cascades fire station has agreed to hold another community meeting before moving forward with its plans.
James "Trip" Rice III, general manager of Community Wireless Structures, said he would mail invitations to the meeting to each household in the Cascades Community Association. He made the offer at a meeting Thursday night in the Cascades Safety Center that he billed as an "information exchange."
Rice said the 155-foot monopole would be used for telecommunications antennas serving cellular phone companies, paging companies, the FBI and the proposed countywide 800 megahurtz radio system for enhanced field communications for police, fire and rescue personnel.
The proposed site for the pole -- a free-standing tapered structure designed to look like a flagpole -- is next to the Cascades Safety Center on Middlefield Drive, about a mile north of Route 7.
Under the proposal, a second pole on top of the main building at Falcons Landing, a community for retired military and foreign service officers on Algonkian Parkway, would serve as a "repeater," receiving electronic communication signals and delivering corresponding amplified ones.
That pole would be about 30 feet tall and would be topped by an antenna about 15 to 25 feet tall.
The monopole would require a special exception from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
Community Wireless already has had a pre-application meeting with county staff members, but the company has not filed its application, Rice said.
The company would build the pole and pay rent to the Safety Center, which is owned and used for Sterling Volunteer Fire and Rescue vehicles.
Rice said he suggested a second community meeting so Cascades and county residents would be able to ask questions and voice opinions.
Residents at Thursday's session accused Community Wireless of trying to make a profit at the expense of homeowners' property values. About 65 residents listened to a short presentation by Rice and then peppered him with questions and often testy remarks for more than an hour.
"This pole would certainly be in our line of sight, and the nice sight that we have here currently would be ruined," said Tom Patton, whose comments typified the mood.
"If we get up a petition against you, will you stop?"
Del. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun), who frequently appears and speaks at meetings in Cascades, said that he lives up the road from the site and that his daughter lives across the road.
"If we look out the window and here's a 200-foot pole, that's going to be a concern," Black said. "What's the impact on property values?"
Officials at the meeting did not address the property-value issue directly.
Similar concerns over monopoles arose last year in Sterling, when Nextel Communications Inc., of Reston, proposed a 200-foot structure. Nextel won county approval, but the company agreed to lower the pole to 105 feet.
Eric T. Ellis, site acquisition manager for Nextel Communications, which would have an antenna on the Cascades pole, predicted that as Loudoun County and the number of cellular-phone users grow, more monopoles will have to be built to meet the demand.
"The more traffic you have going down Route 7, the more sites you're going to need," Ellis said.
He said Nextel already has seven monopole sites in the Tysons Corner area alone, and he predicted that such sites will be needed at one-mile intervals along Route 7 in Loudoun to handle the growing number of users.
Some residents at the Thursday session seemed resigned to the presence of the poles -- and to the controversy they generate.
Even Rice, the Community Wireless executive, said he expected to go back to work and tell his superiors that "people don't really want this."
But, he added, "I'm not the final decision-maker."