Contentious Verizon hearing enters 7th month

The public hearing on the installation of Verizon antennas atop Providence Hall remains open and contentious. File photo

ATHENS — Several municipalities have been notified about an upcoming telecommunications project scheduled for Schoharie Turnpike in the town of Athens. Verizon Wireless is proposing the installation of a small cell antenna on a wooden utility pole at 1293 Schoharie Turnpike.

The structure would be 50 feet tall and sited within a 10-foot-by-10-foot area, which Verizon would lease from the property owners, according to the proposal. The project will require usage and area variances, as well as site plan approval.

Athens town officials have not yet received an application for the project, Code Enforcement Officer Albert Gasparini said.

Greene County Legislator Ed Bloomer, R-Athens, said cell coverage is an issue for the area, adding that he didn’t know specifics on the proposed project.

“Anywhere in a rural area, I don’t think cell towers range very far,” Bloomer said. “[Towers] average a couple miles, so it doesn’t reach everywhere.”

The antennae site would be visited from one to three times per year for maintenance, according to the proposal. The project would not have any impact on water and sewer services, or on vehicle and pedestrian access.

“We consistently invest in our network to offer our customers the quality experience and reliability they expect and deserve,” Verizon Wireless Consumer Public Relations Manager Chris Serico said. “As more people are doing more things, in more places with more mobile devices, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in voice and data traffic on our network. We only expect that trend to increase.”

New sites will be needed to meet that demand, Serico said.

“To support that growing demand, it’s necessary to build new cell sites where customers want and need to use our service,” Serico said. “[This cell site] will improve Verizon’s area 4G LTE coverage and capacity — particularly important now and into the future, as many residents will continue to depend on reliable broadband service to work and learn from home.”

The towns of Cairo, Catskill, Coxsackie and Greenport; villages of Catskill and Coxsackie; and city of Hudson received Verizon’s proposal, as well as Greene County Emergency Services and Greene County Economic Development, Tourism & Planning.

Across the river in Hudson, six antennae are proposed for installation on the roof of Providence Hall on Columbia Street. The project requires a special-use permit and the planning board has held five public hearings on the project so far, with another session scheduled for March 9.

Nineteen Hudson residents hired a lawyer to urge the city planning board to reject Verizon’s application for six antennae atop Providence Hall.

The Hudson application is for Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, on behalf of Verizon Wireless, to install and operate wireless communications equipment on the roof of 119 Columbia St. in the city.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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