VOORHEESVILLE In a “dead zone” of cell activity, where dropped calls are common, Verizon Wireless seeks to forgo town-mandated height limits with a cell tower.
The tower would be 124-feet tall, with up to 12, 116 foot antennas, and would be placed at 20 Stovepipe Road in Voorheesville, which is owned by Robert and Andy Appleby.
At this location, the tower would sit in the expanse of roadside fields off of State Route 85A.
A height variance was presented at the Nov. 17 zoning board meeting, as town zoning laws only allow structures to reach 45 feet high. The tower would require about 80 more feet.
An addition variance was presented to the planning board at its Tuesday, Dec. 1 meeting, as towers are not permitted in the New Scotland’s residential hamlet zoning districts. The planning board portion of the application has been tabled until the zoning board completes its review of the application.
“You know there’s a cliff in there,” asked Town Engineer R. Mark Dempf to Rick Andras, a radio frequency expert from Verizon Wireless at the zoning board meeting. Andras was surprised, but did not seem to think the cliff would cause issue. The location, he said, was chosen using google maps.
Andras had also considered the town landfill property before choosing the Stovepipe Road location. He has worked to the company for several years bringing cell towers to many rural towns around the country.
With the growth of cell-data usage in recent years, certain areas in town have become “dead zones.” The proposed tower would expand coverage.
For every call, text, app used, every internet use from a mobile device requires intel from these cell towers. As each tower can only handle about 1,200 data events simultaneously, Andras said the company has been unable to keep up.
According to attorney Jared Lusk, with Nixon Peabody of Rochester, representing Cellco Partnership, a subsidiary of Verizon Wireless, in order for the company to keep its Federal Communications Commission license, Verizon is required to provide “substantial service to its licensed area.”
The company reportedly invested over $830 million in its network in New York in Northern New Jersey last year.
“Verizon Wireless is always exploring opportunities to improve its network on behalf of our customers,” said the company in a statement. The tower at 20 Stove Pipe Road “will enhance 4G/LTE coverage and capacity for our customers on State Route 85 and County Route 443 (including the Clarksville Hamlet area) in the southwestern portion of New Scotland.”
A public hearing for the zoning board request has been set for Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. Notice of hearing is being sent out by the town.