Appeals board OKs cellphone tower near Lowell

Vergennes Township, cellphone tower
The April 26, 2017 meeting of the Vergennes Township Board of Appeals, during which a plan to build a cellphone tower was discussed.


VERGENNES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Vergennes Township Zoning Board of Appeals decided Wednesday night that Verizon can go forward with plans to build a cellphone tower.

The about 200-foot tower will stand along Beckwith Drive NE, north of the city of Lowell and near Fallasburg Park, which is home to a historic covered bridge.

A neighbor who lives near that site appealed after the plan was OK’d by the township in February, arguing Verizon didn’t fully follow protocol when it applied and that the township was negligent. The neighbor’s attorney said that Verizon didn’t contact all the parties and organizations that would be impacted, including the Fallasburg Historical Society.

Verizon admitted it never contacted the Fallasburg Historical Society, but said that was because it couldn’t find any contact information for that group.

The Board of Appeals said it found no evidence to support the opponent’s claims. It said Verizon’s failure to contact the historical society was a simple error, not an attempt to shirk the rules.

Some were concerned the tower would negatively affect the rural landscape that residents enjoy and the picturesque view at the covered bridge.

“Now we have this that we have to look at every day. People come here to vacation. People come here daily. They live in this beautiful environment,” one neighbor said at the Wednesday hearing.

There were also concerns that the tower may not be structurally sound.

“The tower itself, what he didn’t say is it has a 200 percent safety factor, which gets it up to a 90 mile an hour wind surface and that is addressed in their structural letters,” Verizon attorney John Crane said in response to that.

Opponents also said the tower may interfere with airport traffic. Crane said the tower will meet regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration.

He also showed a series of aerial photos that were taken after Verizon teams marked the tower site with a balloon at 200 feet. He said that because the balloon wasn’t visible in the photos, the tower wouldn’t make much of an impact, either.

The Board of Appeals will meet with the Township Board to discuss the next steps in finalizing approval.

The neighbor who filed the first appeal may appeal again to the circuit court.