By Naomi Hatch
Verizon Wireless received approval last week to construct an 80’ communications tower next to Snowflake’s Well No. 2, which is located near Second West and 11th South.
Public Works Superintendent Terry Cooper said that Verizon was seeking approval to lease approximately 882 square feet, which is a portion of the property next to the well.
“Staff looked at it and we don’t see any issues from our perspective,” said Cooper.
Reg Destree of Verizon explained that there is a tower in Taylor and one on the north side of Snowflake, and this would be a good location to provide better coverage. He noted that this would be an 80’ pole with antennas and one or possibly two microwaves on top, but since the town has fiber optic it would most likely be one microwave. At this time there would not be lights due to the Taylor Airport, but he noted this is not the final study. He added that the town would be allowed to place anything on the pole at no charge as long as the pole was structurally capable to handle it.
There would be a 12’x26’ building that would be 11’ tall, and they are proposing to put a new 14’ gate in for the town.
In response to a question posed by Mayor Kelly Willis, Cooper said that there is adequate room for a new storage tank and the tower.
Verizon officials talked to the closest neighbor, who reportedly had no problem with the tower.
Mayor Willis said he felt strongly that they should talk to other neighbors, and asked Terril Kay and Byron Lewis, council candidates who live in that area, how they felt about the tower.
Both said they felt it would be beneficial to the community and they would have no problem with it being there.
Councilman Tom Poscharsky said he spoke with Will Wilson and Curtis Winder previously, and that was a prime site for upgrades. He noted that he felt there would not be much extra land out there.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said Councilwoman Bev Kay.
Councilman Lynn Johnson asked if it was standard practice to consult with people on such a matter.
Town Manager Paul Watson responded that is only the case with a request for a variance.
“There’s a lot of people who’d like to start their own business; they want that extra service,” said Councilman Kerry Ballard.
The mayor expressed concern about taking peoples rights by approving the tower without talking to residents.
Ballard moved to accept the land lease agreement with Verizon Wireless, and the motion was seconded.
“A lot of people might not feel it’s a big deal, but I feel it’s a big deal,” said the mayor.
Watson suggested they make the motion subject to the approval of the neighbors, but questioned what was considered neighbors, asking if that meant polling everyone.
“The adjoining property,” responded the mayor.
The motion passed, subject to staff contacting adjoining property owners.
In other action Aug. 12, the council approved an agreement with Hinton Burdick, CPAs to provide an audit of the town financial statements.
Finance Director Brian Richards said that a single audit is probably not needed this year, explaining that one is required by the federal government when there are more than $500,000 in federal expenditures of federal grants.
This is the third year of Hinton Burdick auditing and the firm’s proposed fee is $13,000, plus $1,100 if a single audit is needed.
Mayor Willis expressed concern about using the same auditor, noting that the council had asked Richards to see about a new auditor after so many years.
Watson noted that he agreed with the council’s desire for next year, but said he felt this company had done a good job auditing the town.
“It depends, too, on if another firm is extremely higher,” said the mayor.
A motion to approve the agreement with Hinton Burdick CPAs was made, and Mayor Willis added a stipulation that staff look for another auditor for next year.
The motion passed.
A discussion of streetlights on Country Club Drive was tabled until the Aug. 26 council meeting.