Town Board extends cell tower lease

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – A $15,000 up-front sweetener sealed the deal for the Town Board.

The board Tuesday approved a 20-year extension of the lease with American Tower Corp. for their cell tower located on the former town dump property.

The extension was requested by ATC several months ago, to run through 2050 instead of 2030 as in the current lease.

ATC proposed to increase the rent immediately to $19,200 a year. The current payment is $7,200 a year and was scheduled to increase to $19,200 in 2016 in the existing lease.

In addition, ATC proposed a 20 percent increase in the rate in 2020 and a 10 percent increase every five years after that to the end of the lease.

Town Attorney Jim Hughes noted that when the original lease was first extended in 2007, the town had sought additional revenue and ATC had agreed to a one-time payment of $10,000 in addition to the rent payments.

“This time we asked for $15,000,” Hughes told the board. “A representative (of ATC) e-mailed me today and said they’d go along with that.”

The town owns the property with the village of Glenbeulah, with the town owning 75 percent and the village 25 percent, and payments from ATC are split accordingly.

Town Clerk Laura Raeder said she had been in contact with Glenbeulah Village Clerk Michele Bertram about the proposed contract extension.

“She said that at their last meeting their board said that if we could get more money, great, but their board will probably go along with what the Town Board decides,” Raeder reported.

“We would always like to get more, but eventually you drain the well,” Trustee Glenn Kruschke said of the proposed upfront payment. “What else are we going to do with that site,” he added.

The board approved the lease extension contingent on approval by the Glenbeulah Village Board as well.

Town Chairman Jim Lubach informed the board that the Department of Natural Resources has given the town 90 days to meet certain conditions set by the DNR for the former town dump property.

Chief among those are posting ‘no trespassing’ signs that would indicate the property contains an inactive landfill, along with a gated entrance.

The DNR letter also noted that the property is being used by all-terrain vehicles, which it said should be prohibited and so listed on any signage.

The board approved a rezoning request from Tom and Debbie Werner for their property at N6707 La Ferme Rd. from A-1 prime agricultural to A-2 agricultural.

Tom Werner explained that he and wife are purchasing an adjacent 1.4-acre parcel to their 5.24-acre lot in order to square off their property and learned that the zoning on their lot does not match the town zoning ordinance and is too small to qualify for A-1 zoning – even with the additional lot.

“Somehow the zoning got missed and we’re applying to have our zoning corrected,” Werner told the board.

“He can add (another parcel) with merger language without going before the board, so long as it is zoned correct, but (the town) has to approve rezoning,” Hughes told the board.

Board members were unable to determine how the incorrect zoning came to be, but speculated that it was in place when the adjacent La Ferme subdivision was created in the late 1970s and was never changed.

Werner questioned whether the town would refund his rezoning application fee since it was a correction of an existing zone, but several supervisors noted that the fee would have been collected whenever the property was rezoned.

They also noted that there are still several parcels in the town that are not properly zone through various oversights and feared setting a precedent if those cases come before the board in the future.

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