The Waterloo Common Council approved a conditional use permit for the construction of a telecommunications tower at 333 Portland Road Thursday night, June 6, along with an amendment to a ground lease agreement between the city and the owner of the tower.

The self-support telecommunications tower will stand 260 feet along Portland Road, southeast of the city’s fire station buildings.

“I feel this is a good location,” Jim Jermain of AT&T of Madison told the council.

Earlier this year, SAC Wireless, on behalf of AT&T, proposed constructing a 190-foot tower in Waterloo Firemen’s Park. Following a two-hour public hearing at which time many residents voiced opposition to the location, the plan commission recommended denial of the conditional use permit for the telecommunications company.

City and company officials checked out several more locations in the area before selecting the site at 333 Portland Road. The city acquired the 17-acre property through a condemnation process and is in the process of preparing the site for future development.

Currently, AT&T does not have good service in downtown Waterloo. To remedy the situation, AT&T is proposing to construct a tower close to the business area.

Jermain explained why AT&T needs to have a tower located in the city. He said his company was selected to provide a nationwide network for first responders following the 911 attacks. To achieve that goal, better service is needed in Waterloo. No other tower in the community would provide the service that AT&T is seeking, he said.

Resident Jim Rhyner questioned the location of the access road for the tower and about the appearance of the chain link fence around the structure.

Dan Kalina, AT&T representative assured the resident a wooden fence will be installed to make it look as pleasing as can be.

Alder Angie Stinnett questioned why the tower request did not go to the city’s Community Development Authority, while Alder Ron Griffin, who has property adjacent to the site, asked about the road access being 10 feet on one form and 12 feet on another.

A neighboring business owner asked about the tower lowering property values.

Jermain said the tower may actually attract businesses and residents to the area due to its service.

The board voted 4 to 3 to grant the conditional use permit. Voting against the permit were alders Stinnett, Griffin and Eric Rhynes.

Due to the change of location for the tower, the council approved amending an existing ground lease agreement with the telecommunications tower owners, New Cingular Wireless PCS with a mailing address of Atlanta, Ga.

The amended agreement notes the relocation of the tower, an increase in the rental amount and the requirement of a performance bond if the site is abandoned.

Originally, the lease agreement included rent of $790 a month.

The new agreement requires $1,000 a month rent.

That is a 27 percent increase in the rental amount, city Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen pointed out.

The performance bond was recommended by Alder Jason Schoenwetter.

The amended lease agreement was approved on a 6-1 vote, with Stinnett casting the lone dissenting vote.

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