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Boonsboro considers cell tower

January 02, 2001

Boonsboro considers cell tower



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


BOONSBORO - The Town of Boonsboro could make hundreds of thousands of dollars and delay water rate increases if it allows a new cellular tower to be built and leases space on it, according to a builder.

The town could make $29,383 a year with a 21- to 25-year lease and two customers, according to a handout from Fred J. Papa, executive vice president of Antietam Design Build Associates in Hagerstown.

Town officials asked Papa to make a presentation at Tuesday night's council meeting about building a cellular tower because "if we don't do it, someone else will," Town Manager Jake Jones said after the meeting.

The town refused a cellular tower at the reservoir east of town a few years ago, only to see one erected on private property on Saint Paul Street without officials' prior knowledge. They have since learned of the profitability of such towers.

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The council has not made a decision about building a cellular tower near the reservoir on Boonsboro Mountain Road, but will have a workshop on the topic followed by a public hearing in February.

Kenneth Wade, who lives next to the reservoir, couldn't wait for a public hearing and spoke his mind Tuesday night.

While a cellular tower would be profitable for Papa, Wade said he worried about possible health hazards to local residents and the town's water supply.

"It'd be a visual blight," Wade said. The tower would be a detriment to the viewscape from the Appalachian Trail and the Washington Monument, he said.

Papa said the town has options. It could own the tower or lease it. It could sell the tower before it's even built and make a sizable profit because communications firms are looking to buy cellular towers on the East Coast, Papa said.

Papa recommended a lattice tower over a single pole tower because it would have more flexibility and allow microwave dishes, such as the ones used by local television.

A cellular tower could serve paging companies, ham radios, police agencies, fire companies and emergency dispatchers as well as cellular telephone companies, Papa said.

While no water rate increases are planned, revenues from the cellular tower could prevent increases for years, said Councilman Kevin Chambers.

Chambers said the Utility Commission also recommended the town pursue a cellular tower because it would give the town control over where the tower is located.

Thirdly, the tower would increase communication coverage for fire and rescue and could attract economic development to the area, Chambers said.

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