By Lonnie Huhman
A piece of farmland on Island lake Road is expected to become home to a nearly 200 foot cell tower.
The Dexter Township Board unanimously approved a planning commission recommendation at its Oct. 16 meeting to exempt TeleSite Wireless from the requirement to have a development agreement with the township for an approved site plan
The only township board comment came from board member Jim Drolett, who said he would support the decision while noting the ordinance does require co-location for others wanting to be on the tower and for its removal if it is not used for its intended purposes.
According to the township planning commission report on the TeleSite Wireless public hearing for Special Land Use:
“This is a new 197 foot monopole communication tower proposed by TeleSite Wireless on behalf of Verizon Wireless. It will be located on agricultural farmland at 10325 Island Lake on the south side of Island Lake Road between Dexter-Townhall and King Hill.”
The communication tower facility will be located within a completely-fenced compound on a 3-acre parcel and will accessed by an existing driveway from Island Lake to the north.
The planning commission’s minutes noted that during the public hearing, residents questions and concerns ranged from: will it support 5G infrastructure, to aesthetics, to radiation health effects.
The planning commission report said the attorney for the applicant, Robert LaBelle, stated, “that yes the tower includes 5G technology. Also the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) bars a community from denying a tower due to radiation concerns because it does not produce ionizing radiation. Thus there are no cancer effects.”
Additionally, it was cited in the planning commission report on the hearing, “the FCC states that a community cannot ban a tower just because you can see it – that’s a NIMBY (not in my back yard) issue. The steel gray monopole is a necessity of life that is needed for emergency communication for our safety & welfare. Cell phones (not land lines) are the first line of defense in a national emergency.”
In his report, township director of planning and zoning Zach Michels said on behalf of the Planning Commission that TeleSite Wireless has applied for and received approval for a combined site plan for property at 10325 Island Lake for a new wireless communication tower.
He said the Zoning Ordinance requires a development agreement between the developer and the township following approval of a site plan before construction can commence.
However, Michels said, “The Township Board may exempt the applicant from the requirement to enter into a Development Agreement with Dexter Township, if, in the Township Board’s judgment, a Development Agreement is not necessary. In making this determination, the Township Board shall solicit the opinions of the Township Planner, Zoning Administrator, Township Engineer, and Township Attorney.”
Township staff comments said, “the Planning Commission recommends that a development agreement not be required because of the nature and character of the proposed improvement are of an extremely-limited nature, the negative impacts from the failure to install improvements is generally limited to this property, and other mechanisms are available to the township in order to ensure the improvements are installed as shown.”
In addition, “the Township Planner and Zoning Administrator concur that there is limited value or protection provided to the township by requiring a development agreement for this project. The Township Engineer reviewed the plans and requested some changes to legal descriptions and to address potential drainage concerns along the access drive adjacent to existing buildings.”