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Six Months and Counting

The public hearing on whether a cell tower should be permitted on Conlon Road was continued last night at the Lansing Town Board meeting. Douglas Dimitroff, attorney for Cingular and Damon Hobbs, a Cingular engineer were present to answer questions. The board has been considering the tower proposal since December.

If approved, the tower would be built on Mary Searles' property on Conlon Road. The cellular telephone company would lease the land from Mrs. Searles. The proposed tower would be 195 feet tall, and would be used to improve coverage in the area.

Board member Bud Shattuck questioned the Cingular representatives about alternate sites using existing tall structures. Over the past several months he has asked Cingular for studies on whether such sites could provide coverage similar to that of a new tower. While Cingular claimed they were not aware of tall structures in the town, Mr. Shattuck gave them a list of all towers in Tompkins County above 30 feet tall that he found on the county's Web site. He also asked about "mini cells" where equipment is located on top of utility poles or silos. Mr. Hobbs said that these would not be feasible because the cost would be much higher and the coverage would be inadequate because of Lansing's terrain.

Most board members agreed that there are no structures tall enough within a mile of the proposed site, but Mr. Dimitroff promised to review the list and see if any were feasible.

Mr. Shattuck also asked about capacity. The tower would be able to handle approximately four hundred calls at a time. If other companies want to rent space on the tower they must be allowed to, and the tower can hold four sets of the equipment needed. Mr. Shattuck asked what would happen if a community sprung up within the cell and what Cingular would do to increase capacity if the tower were already at capacity with other companies' co-located equipment. "Would Cingular want to build another tower?" he asked.

Mr. Dimitroff said that it would be possible to upgrade the existing tower to hold more equipment. Mr. Hobbs added that the purpose of the tower was for coverage, not capacity, and that the problem of capacity only occurs in big cities and their suburbs, so it is unlikely that they would need a second tower in the area.

The next step is to complete an environmental study and to "establish a hearing for a seeker on June 15 at 7:05 PM" said Town Supervisor, Stephen Farkas.

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