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Needless eye sores!

The City can and should insist on the removal of old utility poles
Warwick Jones

We have written many times about the rampant development in the City, the generous allowance of variances and exceptions by the Board of Zoning Appeals, the low level of standards applied by the Board of Architectural Review. We'll concede that there are two sides to most and if not all issues, even though the merits for some have been underwhelming in our view. But we wonder what the City administration's and its supporters' reason can possible be for not removing old utility poles. Apart for the cost, which we believe is modest and will be borne by the utilities, we can't think of any.

Utility poles are "clipped" and left standing
From discussions with the City, it seems that SCE&G plays the major role in the erection and use of poles. Other groups such as Bell South and cable companies can use the poles. But if SCE& G decides that a utility pole is coming to the end of its useful life - about 10 years -then there is a "change out". It clips the top third and reattaches its wires to a new pole erected nearby. The old utility pole is not removed, and the wires that belong to the other companies remain. So two poles stand - for years - where there should be only one. We suspect that in some locations there could be three generations of utility poles. Are we exaggerating? Take a look at the photos

poles1.jpg

Society Street
poles2.jpg

Wentworth and Meeting Streets
poles3.jpg
Society Street

These old poles does nothing to help the appearance of the City.

City has power to have utility poles removed
These eye-sores do not have to exist. The City has the power and right to force all companies to use the new pole. It has the right to enforce the removal of the old pole. Take a look at the following paragraphs out of the City ordinance.

Chapter 30 section 30-87
Poles and wires obstructing travel: removal of superfluous poles and wires
it shall be the duty of the department of public service to direct the placing of poles and wires in the streets, alleys in public places of the city so that the same shall cause as little obstruction as possible to either public travel on such thoroughfares or to the private use and enjoyment of adjacent property. The department of public service shall compel the removal of superfluous polls, loops, wires and supports at once.

Chapter 30 section 30-83
All companies erecting wires shall occupy the same line of poles wherever such combined use is practicable, to be determined by the public works and utilities committee of the city council and shall pay therefor such rental compensation as the parties interested may agree upon, or if they shall fail to agree, then such as may be fixed by such committee.

There can be no excuse for these unnecessary eye-sores. The City should enforce its ordinances. It might also consider again putting all wiring underground. Even single poles with their wiring webs detract from the City's appearance. But this is part of a bigger issue.

Your Comments:

I'd never heard of the "clipping" of utility poles and the spawning of new, unecessary ones. Thanks for bringing this to light. I totally agree- consolidate the cables onto one pole or better yet, install underground wiring. As Charleston moves into a new stage of development, residents should be insisting on the clean-up of our streetscape. Downtown will probably be the first to benefit, but I hope the removal of unecessary 20th Century clutter extends across the entire area. We now have cellular towers. Isn't that bad enough?

Posted by: Lee from Wagener Terrace at July 13, 2006 01:51 AM

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