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Posted: 08/28/13

Bruce officials vote in
favor of Internet tower

Observer Staff Writer
      A 200-foot Internet tower has been denied, but Bruce officials have given the go-ahead for a shorter tower to bring Internet to the township.
       At its Aug. 21 meeting, the Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to grant Solvaris, Inc. a Special Land Use (SLU) request to install a high-speed Internet tower on township property.
       A special meeting will be held 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at the Township Hall to discuss a lease agreement between the township and Solvaris for use of the land.
       Matt Lauer, Bruce resident and owner of Solvaris, applied in May for a SLU that would permit him to erect a tower on township-owned property east of Hipp Road and south of 36 Mile Road.
       Both the Planning Commission and board voted in favor of the SLU contingent upon the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) deciding on a height variance for the 200-foot tower.
       Earlier this month, the ZBA voted 3-2 to deny a variance. This led to the board bringing the SLU back for another vote.
       Supervisor Richard Cory said Solvaris met all the stipulations laid out by the Planning Commission, including a detailed site plan and complying with federal aviation standards.
       Following the vote, Cory sought approval for a ground and tower lease agreement. Trustee Paul Okoniewski said he didn't wish to make any decisions on the lease since the board received it the day of the meeting.
       "I think we ought to give it some time to look at it and review it and provide some adequate feedback," he said.
       Lauer has argued that the 200-foot tower is the most feasible way to broadcast the high-speed Internet signal given the foliage and landscape of the township. He said a 175-foot tower would likely require a second tower to be installed elsewhere in the township to cover the areas that need it.
       The ZBA upheld the township's height limit of 175 feet, saying the variance denial wouldn't prevent Lauer from installing a shorter tower and that the township's Master Plan encourages the preservation of a rural atmosphere.
       Lauer said he has yet to decide whether he will appeal the ZBA's decision to the Macomb County Circuit Court.
       "The height limitation as it stands today is antiquated and does not reflect current wireless technology," Lauer said in a statement.
       Residents that have spoken on the issue are divided. Some have pled for high-speed Internet services while others have fought against the tower, saying they don't want to see it from their property.

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