Vote on cell towers delayed citing lack of environmental studies

CHEEKTOWAGA – Resolutions to built two cellular communications towers in South Cheektowaga were tabled for the second time in two months because two environmental studies have yet to be completed.

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski is erring on the side of caution saying she wants the town to wait for reports from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the DEC because the tower at 4872 Transit Road could impact federally designated wetlands.

“If those don’t get approved, there’s no reason to move forward with this, so let’s wait and see what happens with that,” Ms. Benczkowski said at Tuesday’s town board work session.

Four resolutions were pulled which would have given the green light to build cell phone towers on town property west of 4872 Transit Road and behind the town’s facilities building on Losson Road.  It would have also denied constructions plans for a tower at the Southline Little League Athletic Association off N. Seine Drive.

Councilmember James Rogowski, the sponsor of the resolutions told board members there was no need to pull the resolutions and the town needed to move on the issue before a FCC “shot clock” expired on May 30th.

“If one of those two [reports] fail, then they can’t build the cell towers,” said Mr. Rogowski. “I just don’t want to get caught up against the shot clock because if you get caught up against the shot clock and we don’t extend it what happens is that we’re going to end up in federal court and it’s going to cost millions of dollars in taxpayers money to defend us.”

Cheektowaga Chronicle superimposed site plans over a federal wetlands map for context. (Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Cheektowaga Chronicle superimposed site plans over a federal wetlands map for context. (Cheektowaga Chronicle)

The issue is that federally designated wetlands extend to the west and around 55′ south of the proposed site on Transit Road.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells Cheektowaga Chronicle that they received an application from Up State Tower, LLC to perform a wetland delineation study at the end of March, but they must wait until the spring growing season to determine if the tower will impact the designated wetlands.  They didn’t know for sure if the study would be completed by the May 30th deadline.

The DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife said they have not received a permit application for the project. 

The town council was scheduled to take action on the matter last month but it was pulled before a vote citing the absence of the wetlands study.

The project sparked an outcry from nearby residents who at a public hearing in January, raised issues about flight paths with a nearby airport, health effects from radiofrequency, lower property values, displacement of animals, and visual concerns in putting a metal tower in the middle of an undeveloped piece of town-owned property.

The land is currently used by the town for storm maintenance to control the overland flow of peak storm waters. 

The Transit and Losson Road projects call for the construction of a 150′ single pole structure.  Each will have nine, panel antennas and three microwave antennas.  According to Blue Wireless documents, the towers will eliminate a coverage gap between Losson Road and Clinton Street.

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