Can you hear me now? Verizon proposes cell tower in Milan

Verizon Wireless is requesting permission to build a new cell tower in Milan in order to address “a significant gap in service in this area,” according to Scott Olson, who represented Verizon at the Milan planning board’s March 6 meeting.

The proposed three-legged lattice tower would be built west of the Taconic State Parkway just off Academy Hill Road between North Road and Ferris Lane on what Olson termed “a large site.” Mike Orchard of Tectonic Engineering described “a very wooded area, [the tower would be] towards the top of the hill, our access road is proposed running east to west from the site location, we have a 10,000 sq. ft lease area.”

Olson showed maps to the board indicating where the gaps in coverage are and why the site Verizon has chosen will fill them in.

He termed the gaps “not acceptable, below the standards that we have to meet. It doesn’t mean that there’s not coverage…it’s just not acceptable coverage.” He specifically noted that coverage on the Taconic Parkway near the site was spotty.

According to Olson, Verizon investigated at least three existing towers in the immediate area, including the cell tower at Milan’s recycling center on South Road, and the cell tower owned by the town on Woody Row Road, and one in Columbia County. But, he said, mostly because of their terrain, none could handle the amount of coverage needed to bounce the signal off other towers.

“Believe me, it’s easier, it’s cheaper for us, we would much prefer [using an existing tower],” he added.

Planning Board member Jim Jeffreys noted that representatives from Independent Wireless One had tried to address the same coverage gaps years ago and run into similar problems with the existing towers.

However, Jeffreys said he was concerned that the proposed tower would not be tall enough to accommodate more carriers. “We don’t want to put up another tower, so we want enough room on this tower for at least two carriers,” he said.

Olson indicated that mandatory co-location would not be a problem and agreed that Verizon would change its proposed tower height to 160 feet in order to accommodate a second carrier.

A balloon test will be scheduled within 30 days in order to take aerial pictures of the site and give an indication of the proposed tower’s height and how it would visually impact the area..

The board also asked for more information on the potential fall zone, the area in which a tower is designed to fall if a severe weather event occurred.

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