Neighbors Win Fight With Town Over Tower

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Residents on Indian Hill are celebrating this week after toppling plans to build a 100-foot wireless telecommunications tower in their neighborhood.

"As soon as I got the message, I called all of my neighbors up here," said Phil Martin who headed up the fight. "Talk about elation; it's all over the place up here."

Crown Atlantic Company leaders were negotiating with town officials for the right to build the tower in front of the town's water tank off Vanderlink and Summit streets just a few feet from Martin's property to bring wireless communication services to Payson.

Company officials decided Tuesday, however, to reconsider, and asked the Payson Planning and Zoning Commission to drop the issue from its March agenda.

Martin received the news Wednesday evening from Jason Allen of Skyline Consulting, which represents Crown Atlantic Company, LLC.

"He didn't say why, but he said they were going to pull their application for this tower, and that they would notify us and the town manager of that decision by letter within the next two to three days," Martin said Thursday.

Although Allen did not return calls by press time, Payson Town manager Rich Underkofler indicated the decision was precipitated by right-of-way problems.

"Obviously, if (the town needs) part of Mr. Martin's property to create a right-of-way (in order to build and service the tower), and he doesn't want to sell it, that would snuff the idea," Underkofler said.

Town officials told Martin they wanted to purchase a 50- to 60-foot portion of his property to create a road to build the tower directly in front of the south end of the water tower, which feeds the Greer Subdivision where Martin lives.

"I made it clear at our very first meeting (with officials from the town and Crown Atlantic) that I was not going to give up my land," Martin said. "I have no idea why they wouldn't have checked that out in the beginning. Somebody blew it."

But, Underkofler said, the withdrawal of the planning and zoning application does not mean Crown International has abandoned its plan for the Vanderlink/Summit site.

"They want to spend more time to resolve the problem or perhaps mitigate the concerns of Mr. Martin, but not necessarily to find another placealthough that is another option," the town manager said.

Still in the works, Underkofler added, is Crown Atlantic's plan to build a similar 100-foot wireless communications tower near the water tanks at Payson Airport a project that remains on the planning and zoning commission's agenda for its March 12 meeting.

"But there's been some objections over that one, too," Underkofler said. "(The site) is pretty close to the airport flight patterns, and the FAA is saying it can't be 100 feet high, that it'll have to be lowered. But I don't have anything definitive to give to the planning commission yet, and I probably won't until a few days before the meeting."

No matter the ultimate fate of either of the planned towers, Underkofler is determined to see wireless towers in Payson.

"We can probably kill these ideas if we want to," he said. "It's not too hard to stop things if you have sufficient motivation. But we need to get some towers somewhere if we're going to have wireless communication."

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