Special Use Permits for Cell Towers

Special Use Permit application Requirements for Towers

In addition to plans, a completed application form (PDF) and the application fee, the following materials should be submitted as part of any Special Use Permit request for a telecommunications tower:
  • Project narrative explaining why the tower is needed, areas to be served, etc. The narrative must include detailed documentation demonstrating that the tower is truly needed and that no other options - such as co-location on an existing tower(s), extension of an existing tower, utilizing an existing tall structure, etc. - are feasible.
  • Clear and legible propagation maps showing coverage with and without the proposed tower
  • Photo simulations of the proposed tower

Special Use Permit Conditions for Towers

Every tower site is different and involves different issues. However, there are certain issues and requirements that are common to every tower proposal. Listed are standard use permit conditions that are typically applied by the Board of Supervisors to approved towers. Additional conditions may be imposed by the Board, depending on the location and other circumstances.


A site plan prepared in accordance with the provisions of Article V of the York County Zoning Ordinance shall be submitted to and approved by the County prior to commencement of land clearing or any construction activity on the subject property. Said plan shall be substantially in conformance with the sketch plan submitted by the applicant. As part of the site plan submission, the applicant shall prepare a frequency inter modulation study to determine the impact on current communication transmissions for the York County Departments of Fire and Life Safety and Public Works, Sheriff's Office, School Division, and the Intrac Sewer Telemetry System. Should any equipment associated with the facility at any time during the operation of the tower be found by the County to cause interference with County communications, the applicant shall be responsible for the elimination of said interference within 24 hours of receipt of notice from the County.

Construction and operation of the tower shall be in conformance with the performance standards set forth in Sections 24.1-493 and 24.1-494 of the Zoning Ordinance. The applicant shall submit to the County a statement from a registered engineer certifying that NIER (non ionizing electromagnetic radiation) emitted from the tower does not result in a ground level exposure at any point outside such facility that exceeds the maximum applicable exposure standards established by any regulatory agency of the U.S. government or the American National Standards Institute.


A report from a registered structural or civil engineer shall be submitted indicating tower height and design, structure installation, and total anticipated capacity of the structure (including number and types of users that the structure can accommodate). These data shall satisfactorily demonstrate that the proposed tower conforms to all structural requirements of the Uniform Statewide Building Code and shall set out whether the tower will meet the structural requirement of EIA-222E, "Structural Standards for Steel Antenna Towers and Antenna Supporting Structures."


Advertising and signage on the tower shall be expressly prohibited, except for warning signs associated with the operation of the tower or its equipment. Prior to site plan approval, the applicant shall submit written statements from the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Communications Commission, and any other review authority with jurisdiction over the tower, stating that the proposed tower complies with regulations administered by that agency or that the tower is exempt from those regulations.


If at any time use of the communications tower ceases, the owner of the subject property on which the tower is located shall dismantle and remove it within 6 months after ceasing to use it, unless:
  • A binding lease agreement or letter of intent with another wireless communications provider has been executed in which case an additional 6 months shall be granted. If a letter of intent is provided, the execution date for a binding lease agreement shall not extend more than 12 months beyond the time the use of the tower ceases, or
  • The County requests, in writing, that the tower be reserved for County use.

Other Conditions

Accessory facilities shall not include offices, vehicle storage, or outdoor storage unless permitted by the district regulations. Evidence shall be provided prior to receipt of a building permit that the Virginia State Corporation Commission has been notified that a communication facility is to be constructed. The tower shall be gray in color. Should FAA requirements dictate special markings, tower lighting shall be used in lieu of multi-color painting.

If painting is required, a tower maintenance plan shall be submitted to and approved by the County. No microwave dishes, conical shaped antennae, or other dish shall be permitted on the tower. The communications tower shall be structurally designed to accommodate no fewer than 3 wireless users capable of supporting either PCS or cellular antenna arrays. If space is available, the County shall have the right of first. In accordance with Section 24.1-115 (b)(7) of the York County Zoning Ordinance, a certified copy of the resolution authorizing the Special Use Permit shall be recorded at the expense of the applicant in the name of the property owner as grantor in the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court prior to application for site plan approval.