Andrew Dys

His Clover home is all he has. ‘Good neighbor’ fights to prevent looming invasion

Neighbors and at at least one town councilman in Clover are fuming over plans to build a 180-foot cell tower near houses. In this 2015 file photo, neighbor Ed Dees Jr., left, and town councilman Todd Blanton look over the proposed site for the cell tower on Walnut Street
Neighbors and at at least one town councilman in Clover are fuming over plans to build a 180-foot cell tower near houses. In this 2015 file photo, neighbor Ed Dees Jr., left, and town councilman Todd Blanton look over the proposed site for the cell tower on Walnut Street aburriss@heraldonline.com

The Google maps site doesn’t really show how big and close the tower would be, says the seasoned lawyer who has fought battles all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The satellite images don’t show it.

But when lawyer Brian McCoy stood in his client’s front yard Thursday, for the first time seeing where a company wants to build a cell tower just yards from houses, McCoy was floored.

“I was shocked,” McCoy said. “There are homes on three sides, and a church. The problem here is the location.”

McCoy said opponents of the tower are not against cell phones, or cell towers. This is 2016 – almost everyone has a cell phone and towers are needed to use them. The people are against one so close to their homes. The tower would be directly across the street.

Although tower officials say the 180-foot tower is designed to fall straight down if there is a calamity, McCoy said the safety concerns that client Ed Dees has raised to town officials are legitimate.

Dees, a homeowner in Clover who lives directly across a tiny street from the site of the proposed tower, has hired McCoy for the now-year-old battle against the company over the safety and location of the tower.

The fight heads to court Thursday.

The tower company sued Dees and the town after Clover’s zoning board denied the application after a contentious and raucous public meeting involving picketers against the tower and a room filled with irate homeowners against the tower.

Those neighbors have remained loyal and willing to fight on. But court fights need lawyers. Dees had to dig deep into almost empty pockets – he works second shift at Lowe’s, and his wife is disabled. But to protect his little house, and his neighbors and their homes, he was willing to go into debt to do it.

“This home here is all I got,” Dees said. “I’m a taxpayer. I love Clover. I am a good neighbor.”

Dees, with others opponents of the tower location, have started a fund to pay to fight against the tower, and use some of it for legal fees so McCoy can handle the case. McCoy said the cause is so good he set a reduced fee.

Tower foes have repeatedly said the problem is the location, said Todd Blanton, a Clover Town Council member who has argued against his fellow council members and Clover officials for a year to oppose the site.

In the last wild public meeting – police had to step in – several alternative sites were offered, but the company claims it has a right under zoning rules to build the tower where it planned to build it. But the zoning board denied the permit originally issued, leading to Thursday’s hearing.

It won’t be the end, either. No matter who loses, that side will likely appeal to higher courts. For Ed Dees, he has become the poster boy for fighting City Hall. He vows to continue.

“I am not quitting the fight,” Dees said. “My house, I am going to fight for it.”

Want to get involved?

Write to Clover Cell Tower Opponents c/o Ed Dees, P.O. Box 963, Clover, SC 29710.

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