Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Verizon a step closer to variance in Burns Harbor; bird protections urged

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By PAULENE POPARAD

There were some contingencies involved, but Verizon Wireless got its recommendation to proceed to the Burns Harbor Board of Zoning Appeals for a public hearing and final decision.

The town’s Advisory Plan Commission voted 6-0 Monday night to forward Verizon’s petition, which has been pending since September due to submission of legal and engineering documention requested by the town.

Verizon requires a special exception to co-locate additional antennas at 165 feet on the 290 foot-tall telecommunications tower owned by AquaLand Communications at 1175 Rak Rd. Verizon also would add a new, fenced equipment shelter at the tower base.

Among the conditions stipulated by the Plan Commission in its recommendation to the BZA is that Verizon provide proof of purchase of an easement for a new tower guy wire, and proof that its agreement with the tower owner requires Verizon to remove its equipment within 90 days if it ceases to be operational.

Generating the most discussion were town engineer Hesham Khalil’s requests that Verizon provide an updated failure collapse model taking into account the additional antennas in the event the tower would come down, and whether Verizon should have to equip the tower with bird warning devices.

While the tower itself is not in a designated wetland, Khalil said one is close by to justify considering the use of a bird deterrent.

Verizon representative Julie Garnello said their environmental assessment recommended no bird warnings, and Karol Fahey of InSite Inc. said the tower landlord doesn’t favor such devices so as not to disturb the neighbors. Khalil said the typical sound and light devices used would not.

Garnello also said they couldn’t find anyone to do the collapse model, but Khalil said he found companies that would and offered to pass along that information. Garnello said other companies that lease tower space haven’t had to provide a collapse model.

The BZA meets Feb. 23 but whether or not that study can be completed for the meeting wasn’t determined.

When it looked as if the Plan Commission might balk at forwarding Verizon’s request to the BZA, Fahey said, “In different meetings, different things have been requested. We thought we had everything. We hope to move to the next step.”

Commission attorney Charles Parkinson noted that under the new Burns Harbor zoning ordinance future requests for special exceptions will go directly to the BZA and the commission no longer will be required to make a recommendation first.

In other business, commission member Toni Biancardi presented a spreadsheet prepared by Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan listing the expiration date of bonds, letters of credit and other guarantees the town is holding to assure completion/maintenance of infrastructure tied to new development.

Parkinson offered suggestions to be added to the list similar to one used in Chesterton for the same purpose and reviewed monthly.

The Burns Harbor Plan Commission is one member short due to a recent resignation. Member Jim McGee said the Town Council plans to name a replacement Feb. 10. The council also may hire a Plan/BZA secretary to replace Biancardi, who resigned; applicants were interviewed for the position.

 

Posted 2/2/2010

 

 

 

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