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DeKalb commissioners reject cell tower proposal

Matthew Apgar -
A sign is photographed on Thursday, July 6, 2017 in DeKalb.
Matthew Apgar - A sign is photographed on Thursday, July 6, 2017 in DeKalb.

DeKALB – After four public hearings spanning four months, the DeKalb Planning and Zoning Commission
ultimately decided to deny a request
to construct a 140-foot cell tower at
1300 S. Seventh St. on Wednesday.

This ends about a three-year effort by the petitioner, Central States Tower, to build the tower.

The commission added an amendment to the motion authorizing Chairwoman Christina Atherton to approve the findings of fact, which was approved without opposition with Atherton abstaining. The denial of the amended request was approved by a 5-1 vote with Commissioner Vicki Buckley voting no. Commissioner Matthew Crull was absent.

A decision was expected to be made in October but the petitioner had to request another continuance when a representative from Verizon was not able to attend. The first meeting in August had been continued after the petitioner did not complete a proper co-location analysis.

Attorney Richard Connor Riley, who represents Central States Tower, said the major stumbling block in the process has been adhering to the city’s policy to check with other wireless providers to analyze the feasibility of co-locating on one of their towers. The petitioner had the same issue with this policy when it made a similar proposal three years ago.

Riley said it would be excessively expensive to co-locate onto an area AT&T tower and would be too far from the necessary site to co-locate on a Taylor Street Plaza building.

City Attorney Dean Frieders had some questions of the co-location costs since AT&T gave a $440,000 co-location estimate for the petitioner when it attempted to co-locate to an AT&T tower two years ago and a third-party consultant estimated a co-location cost to the Central States Tower of roughly $170,000. Since the co-location costs on the new tower don’t factor in the construction of the tower itself, Frieders said the figures may be somewhat inconclusive in deciding which one is the more affordable option.

Public comments largely were negative for the proposal. Some residents questioned the financial incentive Central States Tower would have by building their own tower and allowing other wireless providers to co-locate on their site rather than co-locating themselves.

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