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Posted: 04/16/14

New AT&T tower approved with conditions

Observer Staff Writer
      Conditional approval has been granted for a new 150-foot tower in the Village of Romeo.
       The Village Planning Commission voted 5-0 in favor of AT&T to construct a collapsible monopole tower on village property near the Community Center on Morton Street. The approval is contingent on AT&T providing documents showing existing towers in the area could not be used for co-locating its antenna.
       Commissioners Mike Cregar, Scott Luther and Jim Stegner were not present at its April 10 meeting.
       The village and AT&T will begin negotiations on a lease agreement for AT&T to use the land. The lease is expected to be discussed at the Village Board of Trustees meeting on April 21.
       Anthony Amine of Amine and Associates is installing the tower on behalf of AT&T. He said the structure would provide a signal in an area where there is poor to no coverage from AT&T, but declined to specify the measurements of that area.
       "It will help penetrate inside people's houses, in their cars, etc," he said. "A lot of times if you're outside coverage is great, (then) you walk into the house and I just dropped my call."
       Amine said the tower will not interfere with other signals, such as radio, television and other electronic equipment.
       Commissioners went through a nine-item list of qualifications to ensure the project was in compliance. A main sticking point was the provision of documents showing other towers within a three-mile radius of the site that could serve as a co-location.
       Commissioner Bill Grandstaff said he wanted to make sure there were no other options for AT&T but to install a new pole. He suggested AT&T talk with Solvaris, a Bruce Township company that installed a tower at 36 Mile and Hipp roads that is currently 160 feet.
       "If one is here already that can be used, why are we going to throw up another one," he said.
       Matt Lauer, owner of Solvaris, said his tower was 3.6 miles from the proposed location of the AT&T tower and could provide co-location. Amine said co-location is preferred since it's less expensive and quicker, but Solvaris' tower was too far away to supply the desired coverage, and other structures, including the village's water tower, didn't meet engineering requirements.
       "We're not here to add towers to the community, we don't like doing that for a variety of reasons," Amine said.
       Other items required included fallout zone documentation, with commissioners saying the zone should be 65 feet to avoid damaging any structures should it collapse. Amine said the tower could be engineered to be what the village required, but would inform the village if the 65 feet wouldn't work.
       Commissioners also sought better screening for the site, suggesting fencing with a vinyl coating. Amine said he would be willing to install the fencing.
       The building permit for the tower will be issued once AT&T meets these conditions. Amine said depending on the lease agreement, the project could begin this summer and take 30 days to complete, but could work around the village's schedule. As part of the approval, the commission requested a schedule of events from Parks and Recreation.
       The project was in compliance for other items, such as being under 175 feet, proper setback distances from residents, minimizing the visual impact and providing for co-location on the tower.
       "At the beginning of the meeting I was concerned there were some issues for some items that have not been addressed, but I feel like you have done that," said Commissioner Don Edwards.
       Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said she notified residents living near the proposed site about the project, but no phone calls or letters were sent in regarding the tower.

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