Planners table antenna, rezone requests

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Plan Commission members want to see more engineering before approving additions to a cellular tower on Appleton Street.

And they decided Thursday they would like to see more detailed plans before approving the conversion of an existing residence at 619 Alfred Street into a three-family building.

The commission heard a request from Excel.Net Inc. of Sheboygan to add an antenna array on the 150-foot cellular tower at 120 Appleton St.

Matt Rose of Excel explained that the company is looking to boost its wireless internet broadcast reach in Plymouth.

The company currently broadcasts from an antenna on a downtown office building, “but the problem is we can’t link wirelessly from there to other antennas we have in the area,” Rose told the commissioners. “We need a higher structure.”

He assured the commission that the antenna would be placed on the existing tower without making the tower taller and would go on the lowest available tier.

A neighbor of the tower, Mark Schwibinger, e-mailed several questions to the Plan Commission about the proposal.

“The last time this came up I thought some of those same questions were raised,” commission member Dan Feldner observed.

“Some of these are questions an engineering study can answer,” commission member Pete Rammer commented. “I personally doubt these are issues but we might as well get it cleaned up. Couldn’t we send these questions and ask an engineer to answer them?”

The commission agreed and tabled the request until an engineering study is completed by Excel.

The commission tabled a request from Trina Homes to convert the structure at 619 Alfred to a three-family after questions were raised about zoning, lot size and setbacks.

Building Inspector Pete Scheuerman explained that Trina Homes purchased the property from foreclosure about a year ago.

It had been used as a twofamily home, but is located in a single-family residential zone, Scheuerman explained. It was a grandfathered non-conforming use, but that non-conformity no longer applies since the property has been vacant for some time.

City Administrator Brian Yerges said that the zoning for the parcel would have to be changed and the city’s comprehensive master plan would have to be changed to allow multi-family use for the building.

Attorney Basil Buchko, representing Trina, said the company is planning significant improvements to the property but that it would only work financially if it were converted to a three-family building.

“It’s clear the property was definitely used in the past as multifamily,” Buchko explained. “The intent here is to create luxury apartments. The company wants to do a very nice job in conformity with the neighborhood.

“Economic analysis shows this building is a three (family) or none,” Buchko continued. “Considering the size of the building, there isn’t any other reasonable use for it. If (the owner) couldn’t do a three, they would let it go.”

“When you go for rezoning, you’re going to have to reassure the neighbors it is going to be something better for them than what it is now,” Rammer told Buchko.

Buchko acknowledged that the current lot is not large enough to meet the city’s zoning requirements for multi-family, but added that the company is negotiating with an adjoining with a neighboring property owner to the west to buy a portion of that property and make the Alfred Street parcel large enough to meet code.

Yerges noted that commissioners would be interested in more details about plans for the building and the property before proceeding with any approval.

“That seems reasonable,” Buchko agreed.

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