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Posted: 02/26/14

Tower ordinance
amendments put on hold

Observer Staff Writer
      Amendments to the Bruce Township tower height ordinance have been set aside until charged issues blow over.
       The Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to table recommended ordinance changes that would allow towers up to 200 feet with Special Land Use (SLU) requests, citing troubles with an Internet tower as a reason to wait.
       The Planning Commission recommended approval of the amendments in January, saying they give the township a chance to review any towers above 175 feet on a case-by-case basis. Towers more than 200 feet would go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
       The amendments, however, came on the heels of asking Solvaris, Inc. to comply with multiple lease violations caused by the installation a 207-foot tower on township property.
       Clerk Susan Brockmann said a decision on the ordinance shouldn't take place following the charged situation with Solvaris, as it would be associated with it.
       "I don't think we should hurt the intent of this ordinance because we're emotional about Solvaris," she said.
       The board originally recommended that the commission review the ordinance. Trustee Paul Okoniewski said the issue was spurred by Solvaris, but addresses a bigger concern of avoiding lawsuits for not abiding by federal regulations.
       "There are a lot of regulations that are by the FCC that we have to be compliant to, and we have to be very careful," he said.
       He said towers can't be denied due to radio frequency issues, and arguments about property being devalued by towers must have data from a professional to back them up.
       Trustees also suggested changes to the ordinance. Treasurer Deborah Obrecht said the township attorney recommended that sections making township-owned property the preferred site for cellular towers should be removed.
       "Some of these towers, particularly cell phone towers, are very lucrative in generating a lot of money," she said. "You're putting the township in a better situation for those revenues as opposed to somebody that could have an identical parcel adjacent to a municipal one."
       Okoniewski said the township's planning consultants should verify that. Minor changes like editing the SLU limit to 176-200 feet were recommended as well.
       Brockmann said that regardless of the amendments, Solvaris would have to re-apply and start the approval process again for a tower above 175 feet.

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