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Hilltowns Archives The Altamont Enterprise, December 11, 2008
On the Verizon in the Hilltowns
By Zach Simeone
HILLTOWNS While two applications for Verizon cell towers remain before the Westerlo Planning Board, one proposed site in the town has been abandoned. Meanwhile, Knox has come one step closer to building its first cell tower.
At a meeting last week, the Westerlo Town Board voted unanimously to discard the possibility of building a 120-foot cell tower on Lobdell Mill Road. Verizon is still looking at privately owned properties on Route 32 and Goodfellow Road, though.
“There were title issues relative to the property that almost seemed insurmountable,” said Town Attorney Aline Galgay of the Lobdell Mill Road proposal. “From a topographical standpoint, it was a great site for Verizon, and gave great coverage, but we didn’t even get to the point of whether it was physically feasible,” she told The Enterprise.
The root of the issue dates back to the 19th Century, when the property was donated to the town. “According to our research, when the original owners owned it, they did so with the restrictions that no building could be erected on that property,” Galgay said. “After that, the property was split up into eight parcels, and anyone who purchased a piece of that land would get the benefit of that restriction, so, the town would theoretically have to go to each of those eight property owners to get around that restriction,” she said.
In strictly legal terms, a cell tower is considered a structure, not a building. “But, we would also need to build a building for other equipment,” Galgay said. “That coupled with potential topographical problems with respect to the fall zones and the houses around it it didn’t seem feasible.”
Proposals for a cell tower in Westerlo have caused controversy. Residents of Barnside Hills Road, just off of Route 32, have complained that a tower will obstruct their view of the surrounding landscape. Kevin Boice is one of those residents.
“It’s basically going to be an eyesore,” Boice said. “It’s inevitable that eventually you have to have something around here for cell phone coverage, but where it’s situated is right outside our backyard of all places. When we bought land here, we bought it for the surrounding views. Most of the utilities cable, phone, electric are buried underground. We don’t have any telephone poles, no transmission lines. It’s really going to destroy our views around here,” he said.
The board has scheduled a public hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m. for the placement of a tower at the Bishop property on Route 32.
If authorized, the tower on Route 32 will be 80 feet high, and the Goodfellow Road tower will be 150 feet; both will have a four-foot lightning rod on top. Verizon may also look to put an antenna on the Nextel tower at the South Westerlo Fire Department, said Galgay.
“The tower on 32 will cover the south end of Westerlo, while the tower on Goodfellow will branch the system from the tower in Rensselaerville to the tower on 32, and then, eventually, they’ll colocate with the tower at the fire station,” Galgay said.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the Knox Town Board authorized Supervisor Michael Hammond to execute a site lease agreement with Enterprise Consulting Solutions and Cello Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless, for the installation, maintenance and operation of a telecommunications facility at 163 Street Road.
Knox, which has poor coverage, sought a cell tower to be erected on town land so the town could benefit from the revenues.
“It’ll be a 195-foot cell tower,” said Robert Price, chairman of Knox’s planning board. “What the lease agreement is all about is that the town will ultimately own the tower after it’s built, and, in order for Verizon to have the right to use the tower and put up an equipment shed, they have to sign a lease with the town of Knox,” he said.
The Knox Town Board also scheduled an organizational meeting on Jan. 1 at 9 a.m.
In other business at its Dec. 2 meeting, the Westerlo Town Board:
Designated Councilwoman Sue Walter and Clerk Kim Slingerland as designers of the town’s website. Walter and Slingerland will seek a professional web designer to aid them;
Agreed to advertise for the position of town justice, a post that will become vacant on Jan. 1, when Judge Joseph Dean’s resignation takes effect; and
Agreed to advertise for the position of clerk to the zoning and planning boards.