Glenbeulah moves forward with cell tower placement issues

by Sabrina Nucciarone
Review Correspondent

GLENBEULAH — Placement of a tower that serves modern telecommunication needs has been at the forefront of the decisions the Village Board has been trying to make from a legal point of view for several months.

At the board meeting Jan. 24, all board members attended as well as a variety of individuals related to the citing of the tower.

The PI Tower, proposed by Verizon Wireless along with Hillcrest Development LLC, was slated for placement in the village. The board voted to approve the corporate application for tower siting in spite of their opposition to it. A unanimous vote of approval did not stop some board members from vocalizing their disappointment.

“We are backed into a corner the way the current law is written,” said Trustee Dale Cary, according to the January meeting minutes.

Site placement for a tower came under scrutiny when the application was approved by the board last August. Having been given information reviewing the search ring of available placement, the range of the best locations revealed that the village did not own any land where a site would be most beneficial.

Though state statute allows for disapproval of the application because there was no other “suitability of locations for conducting the activity,” moving ahead with a disapproval may turn costly for the village because of legal fees, purchasing a site and the loss of any possible income from any proposed tower site.

With a site proposed on private land owned by Hillcrest, and before a building permit will be approved, the Planning Commission forwarded their recommendations to the board for discussion. Listed were seven items that were presented to Michael Bauer, attorney for the village.

Among the items, the first of two most prominent is identifying the setback distance(s) correctly, should future expansion be a possibility. Expansion could therefore accommodate additional generators for other telecommunication carriers that may rent tower space from Verizon.

The second major concern is to confirm the sound of the generator is “hospital quiet” before a building permit will be granted by the board.

The generator that is intended for this site has specifications for decibel levels, however the attorney representing PI Tower was not given nor did he have those specifications available. The generator does not run constantly, but runs at intervals.

Other items involved height of the fencing and barbed wire protection. The tower will be a single pole of galvanized steel. Green slats will be placed around the unit to further cut down any noise and Hillcrest will be responsible for any due diligence as the tower will not sit on village property.

Also, according to state statutes, landscaping around a tower site has to be in compliance with state legislation. The planning Commission recommended 45 Arborvitae trees to be planted per side, instead of 32 as originally proposed, to create a wall of greenery and further cut down on noise.

“It’s a better buffer,” Trustee Paul Olm, who sits on the commission, said.

The board wants to be assured no responsibility rests on the village to maintain the site, as they do not own the site. Their sole responsibility is to make sure all state statutes, village ordinances and site-specific requests are met before approving a building permit.

In the March meeting minutes, a real estate agent representing the sale of the old Glenbeulah High School said that he had a possible buyer for the parcel.

He asked if the property could be rezoned R-2 from R-1, which would allow for possible renovation for the purpose of housing along with adding parking for automobiles.

Vern H. Romanesko, the real estate agent who held the listing, purchased the parcel in April. According to Sheboygan County public records, Romenesko, based in Appleton, purchased the parcel in consideration for $6,000.

The purchase of the school building was recorded in the village of Glenbeulah meeting minutes for April.

Should Romanesko’s potential buyer purchase the property, that entity would be required to go through the Planning Commission, then to the Village Board for approval for any changes in zoning as well as additional construction or reconstruction of any other part of the building on the site.

A brick building that opened in 1918, the old high school is 13,000 square feet and has been vacant for several years. The structure is surveilled by sheriff’s deputies and board members. The building is private property and trespassers can be sued under certain circumstances or issued a citation.

The board agreed during discussion that they would entertain any plans a potential buyer would have to renovate the building for, among other things, multifamily housing.

The transformation of structures, like schools, convents, and office buildings is a trend to preserve older buildings that have served to create the identity of a town or city.

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