Archive for Thursday, July 10, 2003

Planners hang up on cellular phone tower

July 10, 2003

Eudora Planning Commission members decided a 190-foot monopole cell phone tower in the city didn't have such a nice ring to it at a meeting July 2, when the Commission didn't recommend approval for the AT&T project.
But the project isn't completely out of range: the Eudora City Council could approve the measure in the future.
Reasons the Commission cited against recommending the tower -- which would have been in the southwest edge of the city ballpark at Kansas Highway 10 and Church Street -- included the idea there might be a better place in or near Eudora. Planning Commission member Richard Campbell said such structures had been located at Intech Business Park, and even though a city park was not residential, it was located near residences.
"I'm not sure how I feel about looking at it," he said.
Fellow Commission member Rose House didn't like the location either.
"I just hate to see it in our park," she said. "This is like our signature park."
Chairman Kurt von Achen reassured planners that even if this tower was built, it wouldn't set a precedent, because towers were to be built under use permitted upon review.
It was suggested AT&T look for a spot near the water tower south of K-10. Bob Herlihy, who is conducting the search for AT&T, said he didn't know how a tower beside the water tower would work because he didn't have the authority to examine that area. But placing the tower on the water tower was an already-examined option that would not work, he said.
In fact, Herlihy said he had looked at several area locations for AT&T to create continuous service through the area and found that neither a tower at Intech nor one east of Lawrence on K-10 would work because of the terrain and coverage area.
After cellular providers had supplied service to major metropolitan areas, smaller cities and connected interstates, they were now looking to connect that state's smaller highways, he said.
Normally, Herlihy said, cellular providers would look to team up with other providers to locate their towers on those companies' existing structures, a cheaper and more desirable option for AT&T. Ultimately, that wouldn't work, in part because of the topography.
The ballpark would not only work with the lay of the land, Herlihy said, but it also was a space where Eudorans were accustomed to tall objects in the form of lights. Moreover, Herlihy said, rent on the tower would benefit a public entity, in this case the city of Eudora.
Although negotiating rent wasn't in the purview of the Planning Commission, the issue of how much AT&T would pay for the spot came up. Herlihy said $500 per month was the standard beginning asking price and that AT&T would be able to reap the benefits of space leased on its tower. That's why, Herlihy said, some towers can draw in up to $20,000 annually.
Other concerns about a cell phone tower in the ballpark location near the highway included how ambulance helicopters -- which frequent the busy highway -- would navigate a 190-foot tower. In response to concerns, raised by Fire Chief Spencer McCabe, Herlihy said AT&T would install red blinking lights and register the tower with the Federal Aviation Administration at an extra cost, even though the height didn't make doing so mandatory.
Herlihy also reassured the structure's ability to withstand weather conditions.
"To me, they are one of the most over-engineered structures built today," he said.
Tom Pyle, who lives near the spot proposed for the tower and who is also a Eudora City Council member, said safety for emergency vehicles was his biggest concern but that he understood why Eudora would be a strategic point for a tower.
"We all have cell phones," he said. "We all know they need to get from point A to point B."

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