Andrew Dys

Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘As the Clover cell tower turns’

An anti-cell phone tower sign stands in Clover earlier this year.
An anti-cell phone tower sign stands in Clover earlier this year. Herald file photo

If small-town Clover had a soap opera, it would be called: “As the cell tower turns.”

And this time Clover might need a bigger theater, because this proposed tower, called a “monstrosity” by neighbors, just will not go away.

The tower doesn’t even exist except on blueprint and is halted on appeal. Yet it is so despised, and vilified, by neighbors who would live just yards from the proposed site that there have been verbal confrontations with contractors.

It’s a real-life little guy against City Hall.

The guy who lives across the tiny street from the site, Ed Dees Jr., who has fought the hardest and loudest, cannot believe that the town still appears to be on the side of allowing a tower that apparently nobody except the property owner and tower builders want.

“It’s shocking,” Dees said. “I am incredulous. Building this tower, with the town advising the zoning board on the other side, is like me telling Paula Deen how to bake a casserole. It’s ridiculous.”

More, Dees wonders why he has to keep fighting something seemingly nobody but the tower people want. May 26 is the next tune-in date. At 6 p.m., the town of Clover Zoning Board Appeals will again hear Dees’ objections to the tower as tall as a 15-story building that would sit 40 yards from his front door.

Why is that soap opera? Ah, the recap. In the seven months since the tower fight began, here are the highlights:

▪ November and December: Clover Town Councilman Todd Blanton in November is shocked to find surveying equipment readying for a cell tower.

Blanton tells everybody that there is a cell tower being built although the town has told the public nothing. The town claims it didn’t have to tell people, because the zoning is current so the government could be silent. Dees and Blanton cry foul. Dees, who works second shift at Lowe’s, files an appeal against the town. Appeal costs Dees $300.

▪ January and February: Neighbors rally and create signs and pack a Jan. 14 zoning appeals meeting that read “No cell phone tower in my neighborhood.” The zoning board approves the tower but the vote was never made official and later was nullified because the town had one of its employees sitting on the board. Everybody who found out howled because that was illegal.

Not a single Clover resident speaks in support of the tower at the zoning board meeting. Everybody else, including a county judge and county councilman, is against the tower.

▪ March: Clover asks for a mulligan on the zoning board roster and appoints new members to the board. The judge in the civil court where Dees has filed the lawsuit sends the issue back to the zoning board. Blanton flies balloons 180 feet high to show size of tower.

▪ April: Blanton, Dees and others have words with contractors attempting to lay cable near the site.

Now in May, the new and improved and apparently legal zoning appeals board will meet on the 26th. Zoning appeals are so rare in Clover the board has to approve its own rules before it starts.

Dees has to start all over again.

“I will fight it out until I get my point across,” said Dees. “It doesn’t matter how many times I have to say it.”

Town officials have said that the property’s zoning allows for the tower, that it is safe and if it fell it would fall straight down. It remains unclear if anybody other than those who would benefit from the tower even want it.

Only Blanton, an outspoken critic of the tower for months, has been a vocal public official against the tower. Blanton has asked building codes people, licensing people, officials from all over South Carolina to look at the tower hoping to find flaws that would stop it.

“It’s a bad place for a cell tower,” Blanton said. “Period.”

So far Blanton has not stopped the tower. The zoning board could stop it May 26.

It is great theater. A super soap opera. Clover in western York County has about 4,000 people in it and the cell tower is the biggest thorn in the side of everybody. It is the government against the people.

Except there is nothing amusing or entertaining about the tower if you are Ed Dees. He expects dozens of peope, maybe more, at the May 26 zoning hearing to rally against the tower yet again.

The tower is unsightly and would lower his property values, Dees said. It is too close to him and others.

“The chosen site is just plain ridiculous,” Dees said.

Dees says many things about the tower. The loudest is it is unsafe.

If the tower fell sideways, Dees claims from 120 feet away at his front porch, the tower would fall straight on his head.