Germantown postpones decision on 150-foot cellphone tower

Residents object to eyesore; AT&T says community needs better coverage

April 23, 2013

Germantown - After more than two hours of discussion, the Germantown Village Board last week postponed the decision on a permit for a 150-foot cellphone tower on Wasaukee Road.

Instead of denying AT&T a conditional use permit for the tower and a wireless communication facility on a 25-acre parcel of land, the board directed AT&T to research whether it is feasible to both camouflage the tower and shorten it.

About one dozen residents addressed the board, voicing opposition to the cellphone tower saying it will be a visual eyesore and cause their property values to decrease. A handful of residents said reception is spotty in that area and the village needs to move into the future of cellphone and data usage, asking them to approve the permit.

Village Trustee Terri Kaminski made the motion to postpone the decision, saying if they vote on the 150-foot tower as presented it most likely would be denied. She wanted AT&T to have the ability to come back with options that would appease residents.

"This is the future - whether it's streaming movies or your kids in high school, virtual schools, a crisis where you have to reach your child - all these outlets are via cellphone," Kaminski said. "I would support this because this is life of the future and I don't think any of us in Germantown really want to be left behind."

Village Trustee Art Zabel requested that AT&T look at putting up a tower camouflaged as a silo to blend into the neighborhood. Trustees also wanted AT&T to look at collocating on other wireless towers.

Representatives from AT&T said through site research they determined that collocating, which is a less expensive option for them than building a new tower, and a shorter tower will not meet their needs to expand coverage in that area.

"The first thing we look at is collocation. We've studied them in the community and they are just not there," said AT&T Director of External Affairs Dextra Hadnot. "People are not going to build $400,000 or $500,000 homes if there is not broadband data. That is the future. We are here now. We've met all the criteria the commission asked, met all the ordinances. We are here not because we feel like putting a tower there, it's because it's needed."

Residents continued to object to the tower. Some said they never would have built their homes in the area had a tower already been there.

"This is a huge visual intrusion and it will be seen by a number of people," said resident Mary Ellen Gray, asking that at the very least the tower be constructed to look like a silo. "Every time you give up to that intrusive clutter you take everyone's enjoyment out of a rural area."

Resident Rich Garcia, who moved to Germantown a few years ago, said one of the first things he checked was whether he had cellphone coverage. He does not get coverage when biking through Wilderness Park, adding he is in favor of the tower.

Village Trustee David Baum asked that AT&T also provide reasons as to why collocating at other towers is not a viable option.

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