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More talk, no action on cell towers in township

July 03, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Washington Township Supervisors on Wednesday hosted a lot of discussion, but met no real resolution concerning cell phone towers in their municipality.

Board members agreed they need to adopt better regulations concerning cell towers and antennas, but they differed on whether to hire an outside consultant who would charge tower developers $6,500 to look at their applications. Rusty Monroe, with the Center for Municipal Solutions, also would charge $100 an hour for travel, possibly from North Carolina.

"To cause these entities to incur these costs just because they're rich ... seems excessive," Supervisor Stephen Kulla said.

Monroe, speaking on a conference call, argued that he could tell a township what a wireless carrier needs versus what it wants. He said tower developers budget $30,000 to $50,000 just for the permitting process when working with a site.

One active site generates $4,000 to $6,000 in revenue for a wireless carrier each day, Monroe said.

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Jacqueline McCarthy, a representative of PCIA, urged the supervisors not to make it unnecessarily difficult for developers to use the best sites to provide coverage. Otherwise, she said, they will go for sites of poorer quality and not benefit the community.

The PCIA, a trade association for the wireless industry, does acknowledge that carriers "have a certain amount of money set aside to develop their networks in certain markets," but those funds are not unlimited, McCarthy said.

Supervisor John Gorman said he would contact other towns that had worked with Monroe's business to get feedback on the company's performance.

In the meantime, a couple of supervisors plan to work over the weekend to tweak drafts of cell tower regulations. They said they hope to have some ordinances to consider at Monday's meeting.

The supervisors have been made aware of at least three sites being actively considered for cellular installations.

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