Hamilton County veterans are content with a decision by AT&T and Noblesville Schools to seek an alternative location for a proposed 5G cell tower monopole that was being considered on school property near the veterans’ section of Crownland Cemetery.
A former withdrawal letter was submitted Tuesday to Noblesville Common Council, to the attention of Council president Darren Peterson, for the official withdrawal of ordinance #18-04-21 from the Council's agenda.
“We wish to thank the Council for the thoughtful consideration of this Ordinance,” Matthew M. Price, Counsel for AT&T Mobility, wrote in a letter to the Council. Price is an attorney for Dentons Bingham Greenebaum LLP in downtown Indianapolis and represents AT&T and Noblesville Schools for this project.
While the withdrawal letter and notice was part of the Noblesville Common Council agenda packet, the City of Noblesville senior planner Denise Aschleman presented the information at the meeting, reporting that AT&T had been meeting with local veterans and had agreed to withdraw the application last (Monday) night.”
Aschleman said, “The anticipation is that you will see something again, and I believe they said it takes about six months,” for the environmental studies.
The site on which the cell tower was originally proposed was on a school-owned parcel just yards east of a cemetery-owned parcel that’s currently being temporarily leased to the school district for four youth softball fields. The parcel for many years has been designated as the site for expansion of a military veterans’ section of the cemetery. Within a couple of years, the softball fields are expected to be converted and become a part of the cemetery’s veterans section.
The cell tower monopole for 5g, the next generation of wireless technology, was to be placed in a fenced area with a setback of 47.5 feet from the shared property line of the cemetery.
The location met opposition from Hamilton County veterans, the Crownland Cemetery Association and others in the community.
Then, a state cemetery law was brought to light at the April 13 Common Council meeting by veteran Izzy Menchaca, senior vice commander for the Ralph Lehr Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post No. 6246 in Noblesville. According to Indiana Code 14-21-1-26.5, “A person may not disturb the ground within 100 feet of a burial ground for the purpose of erecting, altering or repairing any structure or for excavating or covering over the ground without having a development plan approved by the Department of Natural Resources - Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. While the word cemetery has been taken out of this law (and only uses burial ground) this law still impacts all cemeteries,” he said, reading the final line in the law.
Menchaca who doesn’t oppose a cell tower on school property, or want to “begrudge” Noblesville Schools of the rental income, at the Council meeting voiced his concern and opposition for a cell tower less than 100 feet from the cemetery.
The original proposed location was being considered on Noblesville Schools’ property adjacent the veterans section of Crownland Cemetery, at Noblesville High School, near Monument Street and Cumberland Road in Noblesville.
The cell tower proposal originally was considered on March 15 by the Noblesville Plan Commission during which the Plan Commission members voted 6-2 with an “unfavorable recommendation” for the cell tower.
The cell tower proposal then went on to Noblesville Common Council for a first reading on April 13.
Ordinance #18-04-21 to be considered was “an amendment to a government use overlay to permit a telecommunications service facility on property at 1811 Cumberland Road.”
Steve Rogers of Noblesville, AT&T’s director of state government relations for AT&T, met with Menchaca, VFW commander Rob Loy and Hamilton County Veterans president Ron Wilson on Monday night at the Noblesville VFW post on South Ninth Street in Noblesville. Wilson invited me to sit in on the meeting.
Rogers shared with the veterans an alternative location where AT&T could place a 5G cell tower.
“I had our people go back to the drawing board and get with the schools and look at what other locations on the property might work. And we did come up with one,” Rogers said. “I don’t think it’s a perfect site but I think, based on what I was hearing from guys, it’s better for your needs. And we’d be willing to move it if we can get you all to agree that this is better.”
That alternative location would also be on Noblesville Schools’ property but would not be overlooking the veterans section of the cemetery. The alternative location would be about 600 yards from the originally proposed cell tower site and would be near the football field and ball diamond at Noblesville East Middle School (at 16th Street and Field Drive), just north of the cemetery, where concrete is dumped inside the cemetery.
“Here, we’re 200 feet from any grave,” Rogers said. “We’re a hundred feet from the property line versus 50 feet … As far as the cemetery is concerned, we have tried to find a place that is the least problematic for the cemetery ... With this site, we’re farther away.”
Rogers showed a map to the veterans and said, “The coverage is pretty similar to, or maybe slightly better, than what we had before (with the current cell tower that will be removed this fall on Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department property) … This just seems like it’s better.”
Loy said, “That right there is a hundred times better.” He was pleased with the alternative location saying that he was worried more about the disruption of funerals with the possibility of humming of a cell tower at the originally-proposed location overlooking the veterans section of the cemetery. “I could support that,” Loy said. “I appreciate you working with us.”
Having a cell tower on the school property, the wireless coverage is expected to improve in downtown Noblesville.
Menchaca said, “I’m glad you reached out to us and actually wanted to sit down and talk with us.”
AT&T is expected to return to the Plan Commission and Council meeting in about six months with a proposal for the new cell tower location. In the meantime, Rogers said AT&T would install a temporary, portable tower, hopefully at the alternative location so that cell service in the area would not be interrupted after the current tower at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s property would be removed in the fall.
Rogers agreed to take AT&T’s request for the original proposed location off the agenda on Tuesday. He said, “There’s no point in voting on it if you’ve all agreed to move it somewhere else.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.