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July 19, 2019

6/20/2019 11:22:00 AM
Plan commission recommends denying Bug Tussel application

By Katilyn Peck
On Tuesday, June 4th the town of Wyoming held a meeting to discuss Bug Tussel's driveway application. A previous application was submitted in 2017 and was denied on July 11, 2017 by the town of Wyoming because the application conflicted with the Town's Comprehensive Plan. The plan will come before the town board in one week. If denied, it can be reviewed again because the ordinance doesn't have limitations on the number of reviews possible for such applications. The goal of the June 4th meeting was to review the driveway access and whether or not it was in compliance with the Town's Comprehensive Plan.
The meeting began with the representative from Bug Tussel making a statement. For those who may not know, Bug Tussel is a WISP (wireless internet service provider) that targets rural areas since that's where larger companies won't invest. AT&T is a co-locator, or partner, with Bug Tussel. The two main goals for the proposed tower are for a first responder network and for Bug Tussel to provide wireless internet while AT&T will provide voice and data. Wireless doesn't have condemnation powers so they can't condemn property, rather they have to form alliances with landowners who would be interested in renting to them. There were 3 interested landowners in the area and the current location was chosen because they are trying to hit a dead spot. A resident questioned why a tower in Spring Green wouldn't have worked just as well as the proposed tower and the response was that the pre-existing towers in Spring Green don't meet the current needs (ie the dead spot) of the community.
The proposed tower is not projected to be a lit structure because it is 199 feet tall, falling under the 200 feet limit for requiring a strobe. However, one of the townspeople brought up the fact that there were instances in the past of towers requiring strobe lighting despite being under the height minimum. The Bug Tussel's representative replied that it's possible the federal government will dictate a strobe is necessary.
While there were a few residents in favor of the tower, believing it to be a step forward for the community, many were opposed to the development. At the meeting, they voiced their concerns about the visual impact of the tower, the economic impact and the utility that the town would receive from the tower.
In response to concerns about increased traffic to the area, the driveway access is for emergencies and other issues and the amount of visits per year is projected to be from 6 to 20.
As for the effect on property value, there was no data on its effects but the representative said that, anecdotally, the benefit of having the service outweighed the negatives.
Another question raised was whether or not there was a way for the town to benefit from the tower in some form of payment. Bug Tussel is not required by law to pay the county, so it won't do that. However, they are required to pay personal tax (not property tax), and are not subject to telephone company tax.
One of the last questions that was mentioned was the effect the tower would have on the surrounding wetlands. There isn't projected to be any impact on the wetlands as it falls outside of the 75 foot wetland buffer.
During the comments section of the meeting Randy Manning discussed why the driveway application was inconsistent with the Town's Land Use Plan. Bug Tussel completed a NEPA screening with no historical resources found, which Manning contested as incorrect. He also showed three exhibits which were meant to show how the proposed tower would likely have a negative visual impact because it would be visible for over one mile when entering Wyoming Valley from the south. Manning argued that the tower would not be "harmonious with the surrounding natural landscape", a requirement of the town's plan.
A final comment from a resident prompted discussion about what would happen if the tower was deemed no longer useful. The representative said that there is a surety bond held with the county in the amount of $20,000 in the event that such a scenario would happen.
To conclude the meeting, the Plan Commission deemed the application still in conflict with the Town's Comprehensive Plan and recommended denial of the application.

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