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The February public hearing had one thing in common with the January meeting: the board voted to hold over the hearings for another month.  The issue was whether or not Cingular should be allowed to build a cell tower on Mary Searles' property in Lansing.  The problem was that the board still has incomplete information from Cingular. And their reception to it was testy.

Ryan Janowski, representing Cingular, said that he had provided answers either verbally or in writing to all outstanding questions. But he had not seen a letter sent to Cingular by Lansing town attorney Guy Krogh posing ten questions from the board. Councilmen Bud Shattuck, Doug McEver and Marty Christopher all complained that there was not enough documentation, and that verbal answers were not sufficient. Mr. Christopher stated emphatically, "If it's important enough to answer, it's important enough to be documented." Mr. Shattuck added that receiving documentation at the board meeting is unacceptable. He said the board should get materials at least two weeks prior to a meeting so they have time to review materials thoroughly before voting on them.

Mr. Krogh stated that the questions in his letter are all items from the town ordinance, and that all Cingular had to do was to read the ordinance and address the issues contained in it. He said it is evident how Cingular's responses would sway the vote one way or another. For example, in addressing concerns about the tower's visual impact Cingular might reply that the placement and paint would make it less visible.

The only comment from the public was a question Mrs. Searles asked about the environmental impact approval procedure. Mr. Krogh referred her to NYCRR Part 617, which is available in the county law library. Lansing Code Enforcement Officer Richard Platt offered to show her his copy.

Town Supervisor Stephen Farkas characterized the boards and his own frustration most strongly when he said he was inclined to start over from scratch, giving Cingular "one more chance" to bring all the answers to the board in documented form. Mr Ryan noted that at each meeting new issues have arisen, making it hard to produce all the answers at once. Mr. Farkas noted that this is the first tower request to come before the board since the zoning ordinance went into effect. He said the responsibility rests on both parties: on the board to ask the full range of questions, and on Cingular to provide documented answers in a timely fashion.

The upshot was that this hearing was about procedure, not substance. Mr. Ryan said that it was most likely that an attorney from Cingular would replace him at the next meeting, and agreed to ask for appropriate Cingular engineers to be present to answer any outstanding questions the board might have. It comes down to this: if Cingular provides complete documentation including all seekers, environmental impact and other required documentation, plus written answers to the board's questions, there is likely to be a vote at the March meeting. If not, the tower proposal could very well be rejected.

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