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Washington Township asks company for more information on plan to put antennas on water tower

July 22, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The company looking to put Sprint PCS antennas on a Rouzerville, Pa., water tower has been asked to present more information to the Washington Township Supervisors.

The supervisors hosted two hours worth of discussion on Monday concerning the plan from Shenandoah Personal Communications Co./Shentel, which has submitted a proposal regarding the existing water tower between Pa. 16 and Old Route 16 east of Capital Camps.

Antennae would be placed 115 feet up the 120-foot water tower under a lease agreement in place with the Washington Township Municipal Authority.

The supervisors told Tucker Lahr, a representative of Shentel, to return in a month with further information about ice loads and any potential effect on the water supply. Lahr argued that the board was making requests beyond what's allowed by its ordinance and the Federal Communications Commission.

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"The site will be operated within anything mandated by the FCC," Lahr said at the start of a public hearing.

Lahr said the antennae should give coverage to motorists traveling around Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., but they might not do much to help with reception within homes.

"We usually like to build towers greater than 115 feet, but we also like to use existing structures" like the water tower, Lahr said. "Our lease with the WTMA is not exclusive, so there's nothing to keep them from entering into an agreement with other wireless providers."

The antennae will send out no more than 100 watts of radiation, according to Lahr.

"So it's sending out 100 watts of radiation, and it's on a water tower?" Supervisor Stephen Kulla asked.

Kulla said he has concerns that the radiation would affect water, although others testified that the tank lined in glass and steel would not be affected. They said the antennae send radiation outward, not back toward the tank.

"It's the best location they're going to get and the best location the township is going to get without building a massive tower on Blue Ridge Summit that no one wants to see," said Stanley Besecker, a township resident who retired from Sprint. He said he spoke independently from the company and spoke as a resident who holds a first-class FCC license.

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