Rick Adams, a consultant arranging the construction of the tower, returned to the township board on Monday, March 13, and said the height of the tower could be reduced to 340 feet plus 20 feet for a lightning rod and antennas on top. "What we want is a 360-foot guide tower," Adams told the board.
Such a structure conflicts with the township ordinances in two regards. First, guide towers are not presently allowed, only self-supporting structures. Also, the maximum height is 200 feet.
The township would need to change its ordinance to allow for guide towers. The height could be allowed either by changing the maximum height in the ordinance or by granting a variance for this particular tower.
Adams said serving the sparse population in rural areas requires tall towers. "This township, with this (population) density, needs to allow for taller structures. It's just the right thing to do," he said.
Towers of 200 feet work fine in metro areas, according to Adams, because there is enough user demand to pay for the antennas and equipment. But it takes several 200-foot towers to provide the coverage of one 400-foot structure.
The proposed tower, which is being built by Cellular 2000, also needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, because of its proximity to the airport. Cellular 2000 has secured a site for the tower on land owned by David Schmidt along the western edge of the township.
Adams said the FAA was not likely to issue its ruling before the township's time limit to act on Cellular 2000's permit ran out. The township extended the deadline, but the extension will run out in mid-April.
In lieu of the FAA report, Adams had a consulting firm of former FAA employees study the site and they said the site should allow a 400-foot tower, based on FAA guidelines. Adams said their recommendation was 99 percent accurate. Should the FAA limit the height to 300 feet, the tower could still be built, Adams said. But if the limit is 200 feet, the tower would be impractical.
One concern for the township would be changing its ordinance for this tower, and then have the FAA limit this tower to a height that kills the project. Adams told the board that guide towers are needed in the township, anyway.
On April 10, the township will hold two public hearings, one at 8 p.m. and the other at 8:30 p.m. One will be to consider changing the ordinance, and the other for granting a permit, possibly including a variance, for the tower.
Supervisor Don Pietsch said the board needs to hear public input about the proposed tower and should decide whether the tower should be built first. Then they can choose to change the ordinance or grant a variance.
Jeff Bertram attended the meeting to discuss the pedestrian trail project around Lake Koronis. The township board approached Bertram, who was active in the project on a volunteer basis, about coordinating the project. The township is talking about paying Bertram and reimbursing him for expenses.
Bertram stressed the importance of a full project plan to aid in getting grants and to guard against future changes to the roads. His first steps would be to organize a committee of five or six people from the township and the city to spearhead the project. Then he wants to contact the state and counties to determine their plans for the roads that circle the lake. What he hopes to avoid is building parts of the trail, and then having the road altered and destroying the trail.
Pietsch reported that the annexation talks between the city and the township were proceeding well. The city and township have agreed to a graduated tax scale that returns part of a property's taxes to the township for a period of five years after annexation.
The township also wants protection against excessive annexation. Provisions also have been negotiated whereby taxes on land that doesn't receive city services (sewer, water, and paved roads) would be returned to the township.
When an orderly annexation agreement is in place, Pietsch said it would be time to reconsider signing the joint powers agreement for the airport. The city approved a joint powers agreement last year, but the township didn't out of concerns it had that it would lose part of its tax base through annexation.
The township discussed its policy of tarring and taking over private roads. John and Nancy Stanger plan to build a private road on lots that they own.
In the past, the township has tarred and taken over such roads, but they are considering a change of their policy to require whoever plots the lots to build and tar the road. With a lot of projected development, the township could end up with paying for lots of roads in the future under their old policy.
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