Hearing on cell tower delayed in Verona

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A public hearing originally for a cell tower project in the town of Verona has been delayed and is expected to be rescheduled sometime possibly in November, town officials say.

There was a public hearing originally scheduled for October 14, but that was postponed as the town needs to shore up legal issues and investigate whether the property is a wetland or not, town supervisor Scott Mussachio said.

Mussachio has said a 180 foot tall tower is planned by Verizon. The project has already made its way through the towns planning and zoning boards for consideration.

At a June town planning board meeting, an escrow account for related engineering fees was set up according to an attorney representing the developer, minutes note.

In September, planning board minutes indicate notices about the project would be sent to all residents within 500 feet of the project - which is proposed to sit on a parcel over 100 acres in size - according to a property tax map - that is 300 feet off the road.

However, the project is meeting with opposition by property neighbors in the 5000 block of Sand Hill Road area where the tower is proposed.

There, town resident Jeff Hull said he had received notification on Oct. 1 of the originally planned Oct. 14 public hearing, but his neighbors did not. It wasn’t until he paid them a visit to gauge their thoughts on the project that they learned about the hearing.

They also found they had a number of questions about the project and are seeking more transparency.

“We’re just extremely concerned about health risks and impact on wildlife,” Hull said.

Among a punch list of items Hull and his neighbors plan to bring up at a public hearing are whether there are alternate sites possible, as there are a handful of cell phone towers already located within a three mile radius of the proposed tower.

According to Rome Sentinel archives, there are at least seven other towers in the town.

“In this time of political turmoil, distrust and division at the state and federal levels it would be nice to know your local elected and appointed officials that are your friends and neighbors are interested in serving our community with transparency, accountability and honesty. When you fail to follow your own laws and regulations you are creating a reason for a lack of trust or displaying an incompetence in your ability to do the job your friends and neighbors entrusted you to do. Transparency, accountability and fulfilling your sworn oath is not only a reasonable ask by the community you serve but a constitutional requirement,” said Hulls neighbor, Carl Morris in a statement.

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