Germantown Village Board approves cellphone tower for northeast side of Wasaukee Road

State statute pre-empts local control; residents, officials not happy

April 8, 2014

Germantown — One of the village's most rural areas will now feature a cellphone tower, thanks to a 5-4 vote by the Village Board on Monday.

A full house was in attendance to primarily oppose the construction of the 150-foot tower at N13185 Wasaukee Road on the village's far northeast side. It is a second attempt by AT&T to seek approval for a tower, after the board opted to table a similar request in April, 2013.

Since then, Wisconsin Act 20 went into effect, including a statute that pre-empts all local regulation and control of wireless communication facilities and cell towers.

"I feel it is unfortunate that this state has chosen to take this away from us," Village Board President Dean Wolter said. "They were remiss in this decision. ... We as local officials have our hands tied."

Residents who spoke at the public hearing cited concerns about necessity, location and aesthetics.

"You keep saying it's about coverage," said Todd Weber, who lives down the road from the proposed facility. "I don't think anyone ever walked out of their house and said, 'What a great looking cellphone tower that is.' What it comes down to is making money. ... It's corporate greed."

Another neighboring resident, Lauren Bagley, said she doesn't care about necessity when it comes to appearance.

"We don't need it," she said. "I don't want to look out my patio and see this ugly thing. We move out there because it's a rural area, and that's what we like about it."

Others questioned why improvements couldn't be made at a nearby 75-foot tower owned by U.S. Cellular.

"We have done studies at other sites about this," AT&T representative Richard Rogers said. "We understand the (tower nearby) is at 75 feet, but it also does not provide the coverage in this area we need."

There were a few residents in attendance who agreed with the necessity of coverage, including George Fitzwilliams, who lives off Mary Buth and Highland roads.

"My sons have used four different (cellphone) carriers in the front yard trying to get a signal," he said. "It looked like a TV ad. ... We definitely need something in that area."

Trustee Terri Kaminski, who also lives in the area closest to the proposed site, agreed that something is needed to improve cell service.

"We want to come into 2014 and rely on consistent cell service," she said. "I understand people don't want this in their front or backyard, (but) this is the reality of the future. On behalf of us in our neighborhood, I want to pick up my phone and have it work."

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