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City fights proposed 120-foot downtown telecom pole PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 17:58

Port council quickly adopts resolution in hopes of convincing Illinois firm to construct spire elsewhere

News that an Illinois firm has proposed building a 120-foot-tall telecommunications pole in downtown Port Washington prompted aldermen to quickly adopt a resolution regulating placement of such structures.

Aldermen made few comments on the issue before unanimously approving the resolution, which would give the city some say in where these structures could be located.

Officials said they hope to work with Wisconsin Technology Networking to find a location that will accommodate both the company’s needs and minimize the impact on the community.

Tuesday’s action came after the city received what City Attorney Eric Eberhardt called a generic application to use a portion of the public right of way near the intersection of North Milwaukee and West Main streets for the tapered pole, which would be topped with a microwave dish.

Eberhardt noted the proposed structure would dwarf a standard 40-foot telephone pole, and said the city zoning code for the area limits the height of structures to 85 feet.

“A 120-foot-tall pole sitting in the right of way in the industrial park would be less dramatic than this location,” he said.

The city needs to respond to the request within 30 days, he added, or it is considered  to be approved. The city received the application on March 3.

“The clock is running,” Eberhardt told the Common Council. “It’s important that if the city is to respond to this application in a meaningful way, it act (on the resolution) this evening.”

Wisconsin Technology Networking of Schaumburg, Ill., wants to place the 40-inch diameter pole in the parkway on the north side of Main Street directly across from the Ozaukee County Administration Center and west of Poole Funeral Home.

The company wants to build the structure within the next 18 months, according to its application.

The “transport utility pole” would be used to provide high-speed, high-capacity bandwidth in order to facilitate the next generation of devices and data-driven services,” Eberhardt told aldermen, and facilitate such things as driverless and connected vehicles, remote weather stations and mobile service providers.

Under state law, telecommunications utilities have the right to place facilities in the right of way subject to “reasonable municipal regulations,” Eberhardt said.

Although the city requires contractors excavating in the right of way to obtain a permit, it has no regulations or standards set for these permits, Eberhardt said.

Those standards can take into account whether the use is contrary to public health, safety and welfare, the amount of space in the right of way that’s available, competing demands for the space, the availability of other locations for the facility and the applicability of city ordinances — such as the zoning code, he said.

“You’re going to potentially have some of those concerns,” Eberhardt said.

The city’s resolution, which outlines the city’s desire to minimize the number of obstructions and excavations in the right of way, was adapted from a Madison ordinance, he said.

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