T-Mobile tower OK’d

Site plan to add equipment to water tower approved

The Negaunee water tower is the proposed site for a new T-Mobile cellular broadcast equipment. The Negaunee Planning Commission approved the recommendation of a site plan, which will move on to the Negaunee City Council for consideration. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

NEGAUNEE — A new cellular provider may soon have tower equipment on the Negaunee water tower.

During a special meeting on Tuesday, the Negaunee Planning Commission unanimously approved a site plan review submitted by T-Mobile to place wireless broadcast equipment on the structure. The recommendation will be forwarded to the Negaunee City Council for consideration at a future meeting.

The project will consist of three new V-frame antenna mounts for six antennas, as well as two microwave dishes and a new global positioning system antenna on the water tower, according to a site schematic.

Negaunee Planning and Zoning Administrator David Nelson said Verizon already has wireless equipment on the tower and the additional T-Mobile equipment would not adversely affect residents.

“With our cell tower stuff we usually encourage people to put it where an existing one is,” Nelson said. “I think it’s a great deal — the city makes money and it’s not an eyesore up there. It’s not a huge blocky antenna system. You won’t even notice it from the ground unless you are looking at it with binoculars.”

Planning Commissioner David Oglesby said although he had heard concerns from residents about placing new equipment on the water tower, he was in support of the plan.

“I have heard grumbling from a couple of people that they weren’t in favor of us putting stuff on the tower, but it’s not affecting the visibility of anything and it doesn’t make it look junky,” Oglesby said. “I mean, it’s part of living in 2018; you want a cell phone, you have to have a tower.”

Although the financial terms of the agreement have yet to be finalized, Planning Commissioner Gary Sjolund said an agreement could be lucrative for Negaunee.

“The city can use all the money they can get,” Sjolund said.

In other business, commissioners also asked Nelson to gather additional information for the drafting of a proposed ordinance governing rentals within the city.

The city currently does not have a rental ordinance, Nelson said, and the proposed language will govern both long-term and short-term rentals intended to focus on tenant safety.

“We are still in the early stages of the process as there is no rough draft prepared yet,” Nelson said in an email today. “Once it is prepared the public will have multiple opportunities to weigh in their comments and concerns.”

The commission also heard from Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission about a draft of the city’s proposed capital improvement plan. A final document will come before the Negaunee Planning Commission during its Sept. 18 meeting, officials say.