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Rome Planning Board OKs site plan for cell tower

Nicole A. Hawley
Staff writer
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Posted 6/9/22

A negative declaration on a Site Environmental Quality Review, as well as approval of the site plan review for an approximate 120-foot wireless telecommunications tower ...

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Rome Planning Board OKs site plan for cell tower

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ROME — A negative declaration on a Site Environmental Quality Review, as well as approval of the site plan review for an approximate 120-foot wireless telecommunications tower and associated site elements at 1840 Black River Blvd. were approved by the city Planning Board during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday held in Common Council Chambers of City Hall.

Albany Attorney Scott Olson, representing Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, Inc., d/b/a Verizon Wireless, explained to planning board members once again that the company’s lease for its cell tower located on the roof of Rome Towers apartment complex is up in October, and the owner did not wish to extend the lease.

Besides 1840 Black River Blvd., Olson said Verizon looked for other possible locations that included a ground tower near Rome Towers, “but there’s a lot of residential homes there” in the area, he said. “So we don’t think it would be a good idea there.”

The attorney said only recently has Verizon received communications from Rome Health, which had not returned previous communications requesting they place a tower on the roof of the hospital.

The tower “can be put on the ground near the hospital on James Street — they have a grass area that would be viable,” Olson said, adding that Verizon will need to install a temporary 52 foot utility pole for backup because it’s not anticipated that the tower will be able to be installed by the time the Rome Towers lease expires.

During discussions with members of the city Zoning Board of Appeals during its regular meeting June 1, Olson said members suggested “stealthing” the communications facility with a tree tower.

“But we don’t see 120 to 130 foot pine trees around here,” said Olson. “But it would be very visible and not really blend in” anyway.

Acting Board Chairman Joseph Calandra asked about any emissions from the tower, and Olson said, “It’s low technology and we’ve done all the homework, and there’s no concern. We’re fully compliant with emissions.”

As for noise from the facility’s generator, needed in case of a power outage, the attorney said, “We’ve done a noise study and it’s at 60 decibels at the property line,” which is within requirements.

Olson added that besides briefly going on for maintenance, the generator would only be in operation during outages.

David Plante, representing Bergmann Architects, Engineers, Planners of Rochester, and acting as a “third party reviewer,” said Verizon would need to submit a letter of no impact from the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure there is no disturbance to a possible archeological site at the proposed location, and include some kind of an agreement to remove the 120-foot structure if it reaches the end of its useful life or is dormant for more than 12 months.

As for the temporary 52-foot pole, once the 6,400 square-foot communications facility was built, the pole would be incorporated into the site, Olson explained.

“”Once the new site is in service, we’ll take the temporary antennae down, but we’ll still need the pole,” he said. “The pole is to bring in” lines “from the street and have equipment here for utilities and an underground trench to the facility in the back. The lines will go from the street pole to underground.”

A motion was made to approve a negative declaration on the SEQR on the condition a SHPO comes back negative, which was unanimously approved. The site plan was then unanimously approved, with Chairman Mark Esposito absent.

In regards to the 52-foot temporary pole, City Planner Garret Wyckoff said a site plan review is not required for that height of pole and the request would now go before the city Zoning Board of Appeals for a special use permit. Verizon is to appear before the board for a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 15.

In other business:

• Matthew Soboloski requested a SEQR and preliminary plat review for a two-lot minor subdivision off White Road (5292). Soboloski explained that the estate would like to sell the house on the 41-acre property along with 5 acres, with him purchasing the remaining 36 acres. Soboloski said they needed at least conditional approval of the request by the time the sale of the house was closed on June 13. The owner said legal road access or an easement on the 5 acres being sold was needed, but the new owners “didn’t want to do that,” so he approached the neighbor, who is allowing him a 250-foot easement on his portion of the property. The SEQR and preliminary plat review were both unanimously approved.

• Rich DeSalvo, owner of DeSalvo’s Catering and Restaurant at 413 N. James St., requested a SEQR Review and preliminary plat review for a two-lot minor subdivision at 108 W. Fox St. DeSalvo said he wanted to knock down an existing structure and “just clean up the area” behind the restaurant. A motion was made on a negative declaration for the SEQR on the condition DeSalvo seek any necessary permits for demolition, which was unanimously approved, along with the preliminary plat review.

• Griffiss Local Development Corporation requested a SEQR and preliminary plat review for 878 Ellsworth Road for a three-lot minor subdivision. The property size is about 66 acres, and GLDC the resulting lots would be plus/minus 8.6 acres and plus/minus 57.66 acres. The property is a vacant, remediated former brownfield site. A representative of GLDC said there has been on-going remediation at the rear of the site and GLDC is “entertaining” leads for business development on the property. A negative declaration on the SEQR and preliminary plat review were unanimously approved.

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