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Verizon Wireless seeks permission for new tower on Black River Blvd.

Nicole A. Hawley
Staff writer
email / twitter
Posted 5/5/22

ROME — A request for a two-lot minor subdivision of landlocked property on Wuethrich Road was unanimously approved, while requests by Verizon Wireless to construct a 120-foot wireless …

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Verizon Wireless seeks permission for new tower on Black River Blvd.

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ROME — A request for a two-lot minor subdivision of landlocked property on Wuethrich Road was unanimously approved, while requests by Verizon Wireless to construct a 120-foot wireless communications tower on Black River Boulevard were tabled at Tuesday’s city Planning Board meeting.

Jeffrey Moore, of Moore Land Surveying, P.C., of Rome, represented John Wuethrich, of 5154 Oswego Road, and Joseph Fusco III, of 7629 Wuethrich Road, in requesting a Site Environmental Quality Review and preliminary plat review for the two-lot minor subdivision on Wuethrich Road. Moore explained to board members that the 52 1/2 acre property was landlocked on a dead-end road, and while both owners are currently on the same deed, they wished to split the parcel.

Moore said there was a right-of-way to access Fusco’s adjoining property. The lot at the east, which is owned by Fusco, will have an easement across the property to gain access — “pushing the easement about 40 feet or so,” he said.

City Planner Garret Wyckoff said it was required by Rome Fire Department that any driveway extended or built on the property, must be built to conform with state fire access regulations. He then recommended a negative declaration on the SEQR and approval of the preliminary plat, which were unanimously approved by the board, with Chairman Mark Esposito absent.

Verizon Wireless

Scott Olson, representing Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, LLC, d/b/a Verizon Wireless, said Verizon proposes to construct a 6,400-plus square foot unmanned public utility/personal wireless service facility on lands owned by the James M. Donegan Family Trust located at 1840 Black River Blvd., near the Mohawk River Trail.

According to the application, the proposed facility is necessary as a direct result of the upcoming decommissioning of Verizon Wireless’ existing site at the Rome Towers apartment complex. Olsen explained the owner of Rome Towers is not interested in extending Verizon’s lease and without the proposed replacement facility, cell service in the surrounding area would be terminated in the fall.

The current facility is on the roof of Rome Towers, and “unfortunately the lease expires in October. We tried to discuss with the landowner to extend the lease, but he is not willing to agree with anything,” said Olson. “...It’s a huge deal because we cannot lose a site because if we’re off the air, whatever service people were enjoying from there, will be gone.”

Planning Board member Karim Madmoune asked if Rome Health was considered as a possible location for a facility, and Olson said they were approached on numerous occasions, but a response was never received.

As for not receiving a response, “We had to move forward because we’re now in a position where it’s May, and we have to have a new site on air in October, if approved” by the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, said Olson. “It’s not impossible,” at this point, “but it’s going to be very difficult.”

That is why Verizon Wireless is proposing a temporary site at 1840 Black River Blvd., Olson added.

Asked if the site at Black River Boulevard would have the same coverage as the current site at Rome Towers, “Yes, that’s why the (proposed) tower is a little higher,” he said.

As for any possible emissions coming from the proposed facility, Olson said the tower will let off “non-ionizing radiation, which is a radio signal — it’s 100% within FCC regulations.”

In regards to there being a generator at the site in case of a power outage, and possible screening of the tower, Planning Board members asked that Olson return next month to provide more details.

Wyckoff said it was recommended by the city Department of Community and Economic Development that the board table the SEQR and site plan review requests, which were unanimously approved.

Also, a SEQR review of a request of Seaboard Solar, LLC of Connecticut, for a 215-lot major subdivision located off Turin Road remained tabled.

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