Board members in Johnson City opted out of better cell phone service Tuesday night. The board turned down a land lease agreement with AT&T, preventing the company from building a cell phone tower. Our Elyse Mickalonis tells us how the decision came to be and what role residents played in the controversy.
JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. -- A controversial cell phone tower debate in Johnson City is now over. The village board voted no Tuesday night on a resolution that would have renewed an agreement with AT&T.
“I was very pleased with that. I think the village board did the right thing and listened to the residents and voters on that issue,” said Johnson City resident Bob Zielewicz.
About a year ago, more than 100 people signed a petition against the installation. The proposed cell phone tower would have been built on Deyo Hill Road in the village to close a gap in cell phone coverage. But many residents disapproved.
“The looks of the tower in the neighborhood, also the location near the water tank. The tower was going to be 150 feet tall and 100 feet away from the municipal water tank,” said Zielewicz.
Mayor Deemie says he believes AT&T paid about $1,300 to $1,500 per month for the land they were leasing. The tower hadn’t been built, because everything was still going through the planning process.
"I believe they signed an agreement back in 2010 for the cell tower. They had a one year option to renew it as long as they paid us a said amount of money in a certain amount of time, but it was only a one time offer,” said Johnson City Mayor Greg Deemie.
Even though the lease agreement was voted down, some residents worry it’s a battle they’ll have to fight again.
"We don’t know what the future holds and for towers like this we are at the top of the hill and we might be a nice spot and location but once again it’s a residential neighborhood and should be kept that way."
But for now, residents can breathe a sigh of relief that their neighborhood will stay the way it is.