Plans Rejected For New Cell Phone Tower

This one acre tract of land at 628 Smith Road near Indian Camp Road was selected by US Cellular for a new cell phone tower. Johnston County Commissioners rejected the request following concerns expressed by neighbors. Johnston County GIS Screenshot

SMITHFIELD – US Cellular will have to look for another location to place a cell phone tower after Johnston County Commissioners rejected plans for the tower in the Cleveland township. The company had wanted to place the new tower at 628 Smith Road on property owned by William Otis Byrd and Teresa Byrd.

The Johnston County Planning Board had recommended approval but Planning Director Braston Newton said the planning staff had recommended denial. Mr. Newton said there was an adjoining established residential neighborhood adjacent to the proposed tower site and the location did not accomplish an objective of the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan in mitigating site pollution.

A representative for US Cellular said they could not relocate the tower into a nearby wooded area because of wetlands. An official said the tower was designed to fill in a coverage gap and that’s why the cell phone equipment could not be placed on another tower in the area. They also said the location worked best for the landowner.

Several nearby residents spoke in opposition during a June public hearing. Concerns included the tower being an eyesore, health hazard, and decreasing surrounding property values. Many said their cell phone coverage was adequate in the area and a new tower was not needed.

Teresa Byrd, one of the property owners, said cell service was spotty in the area and when someone is on the road needing to dial 911 “we expect our cell phones to work.”

William Otis Byrd said he was a farmer and bought the land in 1979. He said he didn’t like the houses in the nearby subdivision when they came in and took away good farm land. But he said it was their land.

“This is my land. I don’t know of nowhere else we can put the tower that would work. I need income off this tower. I am 72 years old. There ain’t many more year to be working,” Mr. Bryd told commissioners during the public hearing.

Commissioner Ted Godwin said he was not in favor of the tower “butted-up” against the nearby houses but saw the cell tower as a public need. Mr. Godwin said he often drops cell phone calls while traveling on Cleveland Road.

Chairman Butch Lawter said, in his opinion, the board had not received any testimony the tower was in the public interest.

Commissioner Tony Braswell made a motion to deny the cell tower application saying it was not consistent with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and not in the public interest. Commissioner Fred Smith seconded the motion.

The board voted 6-to-0 to deny the request. Commissioner April Stephens recused herself from the vote because her family owns nearby property.

“It’s a good idea, just not at this location,” Commissioner Patrick Harris said after the vote.


  1. A blatant example of someone (the Byrd’s) not being in the JoCo good old boys criminal network!!! It’s just a matter of time and it will be erected on some good old boys property.

  2. New subdivisions get rammed through whether the neighbors like it or not, as happened to Mr. Byrd. $$$$$

  3. Mr. Byrd put you up 2 or 3 hog pens on your property. Your neighbors will not see a tower, but they will be able to smell the price of their objections to the tower.

  4. Lol denied in clear disregard for standing FCC guidelines, the locality will be sued and the federal government will overturn the denial. All this does is cost the municipality and taxpayers money they wouldn’t of had to spend if they just approved it

  5. People were worried about health hazards? It’s surprising that people still don’t understand the basics of how common parts of modern infrastructure work.

  6. I’m in that area pretty frequently, and the lack of cell service is definitely an issue at times. It would be nice if that was improved, but I guess that won’t be happening.

  7. “The board voted 6-to-0 to deny the request. Commissioner April Stephens recused herself from the vote because her family owns nearby property.” Sounds suspicious to me…

    • Like I said, the tower will soon be erected on the property of a member of the good old boys/girls network. Just remember that JoCo keeps re-electing these CROOKS!!!!!!!

  8. Way to go folks! These communication companies think they can buy anyone out! The power of the people….sick of these monstrosities going up…over 400,000 in the USA. There are obvious carginogens from these suckers. The studies are bias toward the money.

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