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Borough pursues other options in tower dispute

July 27, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - While legal issues are being decided in court, Chambersburg is pursuing other remedies to the re-radiation problem that has held up completion of a 2-million-gallon water tower for almost two years, borough officials said.

"We continue to work at this on a variety of levels. One of them is technical," Borough Manager Eric Oyer said Monday. "We've had an expert in this area assisting us in the process of trying to proceed with construction," he said.

The problem is re-radiation of radio frequencies from nearby broadcast towers owned by VerStandig Broadcasting Inc. Absorbed by the steel of the 153-foot water tower, the energy was causing shocks and burns to construction workers, according to borough records.

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Oyer said the contractor for the tower project may return to the site this fall to attempt to fix the re-radiation problem and resume construction.

"That, obviously, would be the least expensive solution," said borough attorney Thomas Finucane.

"The unfortunate fact for VerStandig is that once the tower is in place, that may create certain problems for him," Finucane said of the water tower's effect on the signal of WCBG 1590, VerStandig Broadcasting's station.

Finucane said the Federal Communications Commission will not interfere with the owner of a property to build on that property. He said cases involving the World Trade Center in New York City and the Sears Tower in Chicago established that right, despite interference those buildings caused with broadcast transmissions.

Along with the technical and legal strategies, Finucane said the borough is still talking to VerStandig Broadcasting. He said he met with a representative of the company about two weeks ago to discuss an informal offer made by VerStandig, but declined to discuss its details.

William C. Cramer, VerStandig's attorney, and Finucane said the borough and the broadcaster still are trying to resolve the dispute.

"Eminent domain would be the last resort," Finucane said.

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