The Farmer's Daughter|
Our blog is written by Jennifer Shea, Dan and Cathy's oldest daughter. Jennifer is part of the 13th generation of Schoonmakers to work on Saunderskill Farm.
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Rochester Planners Approve Expansion of Local Farm Market
April 30, 2012
At its April 10 meeting, the Rochester Planning Board approved an application by T- Mobile Northeast LLC (T- Mobile) to install three antennas on a cell tower located at 82 City Hall Road, between Queens Highway and Samsonville Road (County Route 3).
Prior to the approval, the board held a second session of the public hearing on the application and then closed the public hearing. In addition, the board determined, pursuant to its State Environ-mental Quality Review (SEQR), that the project would not have a significant adverse environmental impact and therefore issued a negative declaration. In its final approval, the board imposed three conditions on T-Mobile: (1) the color of the antennas must match that of the existing structure; (2) it must obtain a building permit for construction; and (3) there must be a "discontinuance of use" provision in place, such as a bond or letter of credit, to cover any potential future cost of removing the antennas, before T-Mobile can begin operations on the tower. The specific form of the provision will be determined by the town attorney and the Town board.
In separate actions, the board considered two new applications from T-Mobile for the installation of three antennas on each of the two cell towers located on town property, one at 6140 Route 209 near the Rainbow Diner; the other at the town's Transfer Station on Airport Road. The board scheduled public hearings on the
new applications for May 8.
In addition, the board approved an application from Jack, Daniel, and David Schoonmaker for a l,672-square foot addition to the Saunderskill Farm Market on Route 209, plus a loading dock and a septic system for public restroom facilities. Board chair Mike Baden noted that the County Planning Board had commented on the attractive nature of the market's design and setting. Family patriarch Jack Schoonmaker told the board "We're very grateful as a family that you folks are positive about our expansion. I'm very impressed with how professional you've run these meetings."
Regarding the City Hall Road application, Baden announced that T- Mobile had provided the board with a radio frequency emissions compliance report, a structural compliance report, and a maintenance agreement. Baden said that all documents had been submitted to the board's planning consultant Clark Patterson Lee, which indicated by letter dated April 9 that it had "no issues or concerns" with the application. T-Mobile's representative, Robert Gaudioso, Esq., of the law offices of Snyder and Snyder LLP, told the board that taking all antennas on the site together -- AT&T's six, Sprint's four and T-Mobile's proposed three -- the total emissions were less than 1.5 percent of the emissions allowable under Federal Communications- Commission (FCC) regulations. It had been noted at the board's March 13 meeting that federal law prohibits a local government from denying an application based on health concerns as long as the application is in compliance with FCC standards.
Baden also noted that a new federal law, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, signed into law in February, contains a provision stating that a local government cannot deny for any reason an application for the modification- of an existing cell tower, such as the co-location of additional antennas, if the modification does not "substantially change the physical dimensions of the existing structure:' He said that although the law does not define "substantially change" it is believed that standards con-contained in a 2004 FCC policy statement on antenna co-location will likely be applied. Meanwhile, he said, in the absence of any further interpretation of, or challenge to, the new law "it's up to us how it applies or doesn't apply."
Baden said that he, board vice chair Robert Rominger, and board member Fred O'Donnell had visited the cell tower site earlier that day. Rominger said that they had walked the site and looked in all directions¬ and were unable to see any houses. O'Donnell said that the fire access road is "more than adequate, was "very wide;' and had natural pullover areas where two emergency vehicles could pass one another-. Baden said that they had not observed any evidence of construction work at the tower site, but that there had appeared to be tree-clearing work done on portions of the private landowner's property.
Four persons spoke during the public hearing. Jason Broome, a City Hall Road resident, told the board "We reached out to the town and we feel like we've been stonewalled. We've gotten more from T-Mobile than from the town. Mr. Chipman's letter just brought up more issues." Broome was apparently referring to a letter dated April 3 to "Concerned City Hall Rd. Cell Tower Citizens" from town Supervisor Carl Chipman in response to "certain concerns contained in an e-mail sent to the Rochester Town Board on March 21,2012" about T- Mobile's pending application. Broome had also sent an e-mail on March 27 requesting a written response to his earlier e-mail and repeating a request for a meeting with Chipman, Board members Tony Spano, board liaison to the Code Enforcement Office, and Lynn Archer, board liaison to the Planning Board, as well as with the planning board and code enforcement offices. Both emails were signed "Citizens of the Town of Rochester:' Chipman also met with Broome and Stephanie Pinto, another City Hall Road resident, on April 9.
At the public hearing, Broome complained about having truck drivers from the cell tower's carriers, ATT&T
and Verizon "many many times each year ... knock on my door [and ask] 'hey, where's the tower?' It is bothersome. It is an impact:' At Rominger's suggestion, Baden later asked Gaudioso if T- Mobile would consider voluntarily placing a sign for the tower site at its entrance off City Hall Road. Gaudioso said the company would negotiate with the landlord to do so.
Broome also said that Chipman told him that that there are structures outside the fenced-in area [of the tower site]. "My understanding from the FCC is that nothing should be outside that area:' Broome said. Baden said that he observed during his site visit that the structures outside the cell tower site belonged to Central Hudson and to Verizon's telephone line coming into the property, and were placed there without connection to the cell
Broome asked "If T-Mobile goes bankrupt will the board consider taking down the antennas?" Baden said the board will consider a removal bond in the event that T- Mobile should discontinue or abandon its service at the site .. The board did ultimately make the provision of such a "removal bond" a condition of its final approval.
Broome asked about "Chipman's insinuation that the town's code enforcement officer has no obligation to inspect the cell tower:' Baden said that although the board "will be mandating conditions in our approval;' the board did not have enforcement powers. Broome also asked that the board "write something into the [town] code to address property values:' Baden said that "It is the town board who writes the Code."
Baden assured Sara Harris, a City Hall Road resident, that T- Mobile had submitted documentation showing that co-location of its antennas on the City Hall Road tower, as well as on the two town towers, was necessary for full coverage. Earlier, Gaudioso stated that T-Mobile had obtained approval for co-locations on towers in Kingston and the town of Olive, and had two applications pending in Wawarsing. "We're trying to catch up with the incumbent providers in the area." he said.
Harris also said that the FCC had indicated that towns can "guide" future applicants as to the location of their telecommunication facilities. She expressed concern with towers sited on private rather than town property and with the possibility of a future "cluster" of towers on the City Hall Road property. Baden said that the board would "certainly submit some suggestions to the town board" after T-Mobile's three applications had been completed.