McKinney Planning & Zoning Commission OKs requests for cell tower near Furr Elementary

McKinney planning and zoning commissioners approved a permit and zoning that would allow a telecommunications tower to be built near Furr Elementary School. (Courtesy city of McKinney)
McKinney planning and zoning commissioners approved a permit and zoning that would allow a telecommunications tower to be built near Furr Elementary School. (Courtesy city of McKinney)

McKinney planning and zoning commissioners approved a permit and zoning that would allow a telecommunications tower to be built near Furr Elementary School. (Courtesy city of McKinney)

Planning and zoning commissioners voted April 12 to allow Verizon and AT&T to construct a 80-foot telecommunications tower near Furr Elementary School to provide for coverage gaps in the area and enhance 911 emergency services.

The tower would be on the north side of Hidden Haven Drive and approximately 630 feet west of Independence Parkway, about 330 feet away from the elementary school property, staff said. Furr Elementary School is part of Prosper ISD but is located in McKinney.

A telecommunications tower was considered near this site last summer; however, the tower was directly on the school property, and council ultimately voted to deny the request. At the time, Council Member Charlie Philips cited that several alternative sites were available to the applicant and that they did not investigate these sites as the reason for the denial.

During the April 12 meeting, commissioners wanted to examine what had changed in the year since the project was denied. Since the tower had moved off the school property, any potential fall risk was minimized, staff said. These types of towers are also designed to collapse within themselves if they do fall, staff said.

Attorney Mason Griffin, representing the developer and the communications companies, addressed the commission about the necessity of the tower and what has been accomplished since then. He said they have met with city officials and staff to find a solution to previous concerns.


“There were a couple of concerns. One was there was the fall risk that was pointed out, the proximity to single-family residences that was pointed out. And then quite generally, they criticized our analysis. They said we didn't do a thorough enough job establishing that we'd exhausted every possible candidate within the area,” Griffin said.

Griffin and the communications companies met with the city and discovered that the city could be given land in that area by D.R. Horton Home Construction. The city is looking to develop that land into a park should the specific use permit be granted by commissioners and council, Griffin said. As the land is developed it will help camouflage the cell tower so it is not as noticeable, Griffin said. Screening will also be provided around the base of the tower.

There are coverage gaps from Virginia Parkway to Westridge Boulevard that this tower would help alleviate, Griffin said last year. Many households rely heavily on wireless devices, which means connectivity is an important issue for residents, Griffin said. In addition to providing recreational uses and social engagement, these devices deliver emergency alerts and news updates to citizens from the city, he said.

McKinney residents came to council in previous meetings last year and expressed their frustration with poor cell service in their homes. During the April 12 meeting, other residents came forward with concerns about the tower that included its visibility, its proximity to the school and its necessity.

Ultimately, commissioners agreed that the necessity of the tower outweighed the potential eyesore it would cause and approved the item's special-use permit request and rezoning.

“It will not be completely hidden because there's no mature trees there. But for all intents and purposes, hopefully the residents will get a better spot with the city in on it,” Commissioner Brian Mantzey said.

The project will be sent with a favorable recommendation from commissioners to City Council for consideration at its May 3 meeting.

Editor's note: The original post has been edited to correct an error. The city will be given the land from D.R. Horton Home Construction should the request be approved by City Council.
By Miranda Jaimes

Editor, Frisco & McKinney

Miranda joined Community Impact Newspaper as an editor in August 2017 with the Grapevine/Colleyville/Southlake edition. In 2019 she transitioned to editor for the McKinney edition. She began covering Frisco as well in 2020. Miranda covers local government, transportation, business and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Miranda served as managing editor for The Prosper Press, The Anna-Melissa Tribune and The Van Alstyne Leader, and before that reported and did design for The Herald Democrat, a daily newspaper in Grayson County. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Oklahoma Christian University in 2014.