Village weighing tower placement

by Sabrina Nucciarone
Review Correspondent

GLENBEULAH – Like many of their counterparts elsewhere, the Village Board continues to wrestle with the issue of cell phone towers and their placement.

Cell phone use, and the towers in which digital wireless transponders are affixed, have become commonplace on the landscape of the civilized world. The predominant use of wireless has all but replaced landline telephones and the data that wireless carries “transports” Internet information, movies, television, games, email, and more. Glenbeulah is no different than civilization at large; in order to send and receive calls and data to keep up with the digital world, a tower that can lease space to one or multiple telephone company carriers needs to be in close proximity.

Based on misinformation or misunderstanding prior to the Nov. 8 Village Board meeting, Verizon, represented by attorney Rodney Carter of Husch Blackwell in Milwaukee, informed the board they do not want to distance themselves from the potential of supplying service to local users. Rather, the telecommunications supplier wants be a tenant on the proposed PI Tower.

A presumption existed on the part of village that Verizon was unwilling to discuss the issue of where the cell tower should be placed. Based on discussion of this issue at the October meeting, the board indicated that they wanted the site to be village-owned and time would be needed to determine such a location.

In addition to Carter, attending the meeting at the request of several board members, State Sen. Devin LaMahieu, R-Oostburg, said there is no official position regarding specific placement of a cell tower in or near Glenbeulah.

Currently working on state legislation regarding cell tower fall zones, LaMahieu indicated that “there are laws in place where to put cell towers because of the location. There now has to be a setback, with concern for the height of the tower,” he said.

As far as the specific situation in Glenbeulah, “I am hopeful that PI Towers, Verizon and the village of Glenbeulah can come to an agreeable solution,” LaMahieu said.

Carter said that Verizon wants to discuss the logistics with the village, as it did from the beginning. “The offer still stands,” he said.

Village Attorney Michael Bauer spoke up saying that the village has centered their discussions around alternate locations for the tower. “To this point, to my knowledge, the village has not yet found a suitable location,” he said.

At this point, the board chose to go into a closed session with the attorney. They removed themselves to an alternate room of the Village Hall. Carter, LaMahieu, and a few village residents were left to talk among themselves.

Among questions regarding the search ring, the “umbrella effect” (where service directly under a tower may be negligible), property values, the sound of the generator on a cell tower and siting of cell towers in general, Carter offered a synopsis of the process.

“If you want to site a cell tower, determining there is a need, engineers determine a coverage radius. They draw up a search ring. A carrier engages a company to find, to install antennas. A tall building could be used or if there is an existing tower already,” Carter explained, adding real estate representatives working for the wireless carrier look within the search ring for suitable sites.

Different states and local governments have different regulations as to the siting of wireless antennas and cell towers. If the structure meets state and local regulations, then it is a capable location.

“If there is new tower constructed, and if you meet the other community requirements, the tower also has to accommodate other carriers. It can’t be on a residential lot. There are also other statutes that come into play that are not purely residential. Places like airports, where the towers or poles would be prohibitive,” Carter said.

When asked about the blinking light atop cell towers, presuming it is to alert low-flying aircraft of its presence, Carter noted that it is up to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to determine if there should be one.

Returning to open session, Bauer deferred to the Village Board to move forward. A motion was made and approved to set a Planning Commission public hearing regarding the placement of a PI Tower on the Hillcrest site, which was discussed at a prior meeting, for Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. The board also scheduled an additional Village Board meeting for January 24, 2018 at 6:30 p.m., to take any action necessary.

In other business, the board decided to purchase a Husqvarna snow-blower over others at higher prices; accepted a paint striper from another municipality as long as it could be repaired and used to save money, should parking spaces or other road stripes need refreshing; buying a new laser printer, since buying a new ink cartridge drum would cost more than the original printer — which lasted three years — did; and, the tax letter should be mailed out before the next monthly meeting.

The board is aware not all citizens have put up the reflective house numbers yet. A letter will be drafted and sent, to remind those who have not yet put up the numbers. Doing this simple measure in a visible location reduces confusion when the need arises for law enforcement, emergency medical services, or delivery services, especially at night.

“It does make a difference when you use a flashlight,” Trustee Dan Grunewald said.

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