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$200 an hour question in Waynesboro: Is advice on cell phone towers worth it?

June 17, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- As they toil through a pair of applications for cell phone towers, Washington Township supervisors agree they need to have better regulations in place for the future. What they now question is whether to enlist the help of a consultant who charges $200 an hour.

Rusty Monroe, with North Carolina's Center for Municipal Solutions, has reportedly said he'll hand the township supervisors a draft version of their new local law free of charge.

The catch? The supervisors must agree that he would be the consultant used to review all applications for the next year.

Although Monroe's fees would be passed on to the developers of cell towers, they could easily be three times the amount charged by the township's regular engineering firm. And Monroe told township officials he would charge $100 an hour for his travel time.

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"He expects we will be receiving more cell tower applications in this area," said Washington Township Solicitor John Lisko, who talked with Monroe recently.

At their meeting Monday, the supervisors said that estimates provided by Monroe were $6,500 per application.

"It seems kind of exorbitant to me," Supervisor Carroll Sturm said.

Supervisor Stephen Kulla said that rather than comparing Monroe's business to the township's contracted firm, C.S. Davidson Engineering, as apples to oranges, it would more be like Corian versus Formica countertops.

"Can we afford the Corian?" Kulla asked. "What do we get for $6,500?"

Kulla's second question is expected to be answered at the supervisors' July 2 meeting. The board said it will ask Monroe to attend or make a conference call.

The need for a clear ordinance was discussed during the public comment period, in which supervisors talked with Dick Moebius, a resident of Blue Ridge Summit, where one proposed tower has created much public discussion.

The other application -- for antennas affixed to an existing water tower -- was only recently received.

"Those companies could go anywhere in Blue Ridge Summit ... and erect their own tower," Supervisor Chris Firme said, blaming the lack of a regulatory ordinance.

Moebius said township residents might perceive the water tower application as a conflict for the board, since the water tower is municipal property on land zoned forest conservation.

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