(3 PM) Ellicott Town Board Adopts Local Law For Cell Tower Management

FALCONER — The Ellicott Town Board adopted a local law to overhaul the process in which wireless telecommunication towers are proposed, built and updated within the town.

The local law — which was unanimously passed by the board Wednesday following a brief public hearing — is designed to effectively “protect the health, safety and welfare of the community” in regards to the cellphone tower application process. The board said the former method was filled with “significant shortcomings.”

Wireless carriers who seek to either build a new tower or modify one already in the town will now be required to contact the town’s code enforcement officer, who will then contact the Center for Municipal Solutions (CMS), a Yonkers-based consulting firm in New York. The Town Board on Wednesday voted to retain CMS to review applications for wireless cellphone towers, assist the town with the review process, make recommendations on whether applications should be approved or nixed and inspect the construction of potential new towers.

CMS will also assist with negotiations over leasing with any new towers that are proposed within the town.

Susan Marino, an assistant with CMS, helped the Town Board with its local law and was present for its adoption Wednesday. Marino said the consulting firm currently works with 39 municipalities in New York.

According to its website, CMS “levels the playing field for communities in their dealings with telecommunications service providers and applicants.”

Patrick McLaughlin, Ellicott town supervisor, said the local law and CMS provides the town with “protection” when it comes to cell tower applications.

“They are going to be the lead people for us,” McLaughlin said of CMS. “When an application comes in they will contact (the code enforcement officer). At that point he will contact CMS and they take care of everything.”

McLaughlin estimated there are at least six or seven towers currently within the town. He said no one has proposed building a new tower in Ellicott, but wanted to make sure there was a system in place should someone come forward.

“Honestly, we don’t have anything on the table here,” McLaughlin said. “It’s not like someone has indicated to us that they are going to proceed with (an application). But this also pertains to existing towers.”

The town supervisor said any modifications to current cell towers will need to go through the new regulation. The local law covers monopoles, lattice towers and other telecommunication antennas.