LIVINGSTON — U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, sent a letter of support to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai supporting Eger Communications’ application to install a 190-foot telecommunications tower on Blue Hill, which has been waiting to clear proceedings with the commission for almost three years.
Eger Communications applied to build a new tower on Eger Farm, owned by Mark Eger, overlooking county Route 31, in the town in 2007, a project approved by the town planning board in July 2013. The FCC informed the Columbia County Board of Supervisors in August 2015 that there is a proceeding pending to review the project.
After winning a two-year legal battle that ended almost four years ago, Eger is still waiting to put up the new tower that county emergency services and 911 dispatch planned to use from the start.
“It is unacceptable that after nearly 10 years, the FCC has not decided on the proposal to build a communications tower to replace two existing outdated structures,” Faso said. “This is a simple replacement and upgrade that is vital for our local emergency communication capability. Officials at the FCC must listen to local leaders who truly understand what their communities need.”
In May the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution supporting the replacement of the tower and requesting that the review and processing of the Eger Communications matter be expedited.
The county is leasing space on telecommunication towers owned by Eger Communications along with a portion of an accessory building to serve the county’s emergency communication needs, according to the board’s resolution.
“The telecommunications tower located on the Eger Property is crucial to Columbia County’s emergency first responder communications,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell. “The technology advancements that this tower brings will help to save lives.”
The project saw delays in the form of a legal battle between the Eger and Scenic Hudson and the Olana State Historic Site that started when the Olana and Scenic Hudson filed a legal challenge in Columbia County Court against the planning board’s approval of the project.
Olana and Scenic Hudson officials argued that the town did not adequately consider impacts the proposed tower would create, including interrupting the viewshed from the park.
The challenge made it to the state Supreme Court at which time Supreme Court Judge Richard Mott upheld the planning board’s decision in September 2014.
But Scenic Hudson requested that the FCC review the Eger tower under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requiring federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties and give the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment.
Scenic Hudson received notification from the FCC that the federal agency would grant the nonprofit’s request in August 2013, a review that to Eger is seemingly ongoing.
Eger Communications filed an order in 2015 for the FCC to reconsider its decision to force the project through the review process, but the FCC denied Eger’s request.
Eger refused to comment about the pending proceedings and multiple requests for comment were not returned by the FCC as of press time.