Cell Tower Changes Coming to Leland, Increasing Connectivity

To increase connectivity in Leland, cell towers will now be permitted in planned unit developments. The Leland Town Council approved a proposed amendment to its town ordinances during its Thursday meeting, which allows cell towers within planned unit developments and increases the allowed height of such equipment.

The proposed amendment, submitted by the law firm Hellman & Yates, PA, aims to support planned unit developers who seek to enhance connectivity within their developments. Andrew Neylon, planning supervisor for the town of Leland, explained that the increased use of the internet and cell phones necessitates improvements in technology connectivity.

Leland’s planning staff provided statistics that demonstrate the growing reliance on technology. Currently, 93% of adults use the internet, 77% have home broadband connections, and 97% own a cell phone. Neylon emphasized that these numbers have increased even more due to the pandemic and the rise of home-based occupations.

The amendment modifies the town’s permitted use table to allow wireless telecommunication facilities and substantial modifications of wireless facilities in planned unit developments. It also raises the maximum height limitations of wireless support structures from 150 feet to 199 feet. Although the height increase aligns with neighboring jurisdictions, Leland remains on the more conservative side. For comparison, cell towers in Wilmington cannot exceed 200 feet, while in Brunswick County’s residential districts, the limit is 250 feet, and in non-residential districts, it’s 300 feet. New Hanover County does not have a maximum height requirement for cell towers.

The Leland Planning Board previously voted unanimously in favor of recommending the text amendment to the town council, and now it has received the council’s approval. The amendment aligns with the town’s Leland 2045 plan, which aims to provide equal access to community facilities, housing, and infrastructure. It is also deemed “reasonable and in the public interest” as it will enhance internet and cellular service for Leland residents.

However, the amendment does not exempt cellular providers from obtaining permission from landowners before constructing a tower. Overall, these changes aim to improve connectivity within the town and meet the needs of its growing population.