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Cell tower applicant asks for second hearing

Cell tower applicant asks for second hearing

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WAHOO – Legal counsel for Tillman Infrastructure Javon Lausterer requested on Sept. 7 that the Saunders County Board of Supervisors schedule another public hearing to revisit the company’s application for a cell tower near Swedeburg.

The application initially came in front of the county board on Aug. 10 following a recommendation to deny from the Saunders County Planning Commission on Aug. 2.

According to the minutes of the Aug. 2 planning commission meeting, the group made a recommendation to deny this application after a suggestion from the county’s advising firm the Center for Municipal Services (CMS).

CMS cited several incompletes items in the application that are required via the county’s zoning regulations. Also, no one from Tillman Infrastructure was in attendance during the Aug. 10 supervisors meeting.

In an email found in the county board’s agenda packet, Saunders County Zoning Administrator Mitch Polacek said the commission also made the decision after hearing from eight residents of or around Swedeburg who had issues with the tower potentially causing property values to drop, tower lights shining and just that they “didn’t want it near them.”

On Sept. 7, Lausterer claimed that CMS was incorrect in the issues that were cited and that he and representatives from Tillman Infrastructure mixed up the date of the public hearing which was why no one was in attendance on Aug. 10.

Lausterer asked that the previous decision made by the county board back in August to decline the application be reconsidered after another hearing so that all parties can be available.

The tower, which is planned to be 320 feet tall, came into the picture when AT&T approached Tillman about finding a cell tower to provide service near Highway 77 between Ceresco and Wahoo.

Lausterer explained that they are currently working on negotiations which may alter this original plan such as the height of the tower.

“The zoning board said no, we said no, nothing has changed in the application,” District 3 Supervisor Craig Breunig said. “Why don’t you go back and start the process all over again when you’ve made some of the changes that apparently you are negotiating?”

After discussing the application further and hearing from local members of the Swedeburg community who would be affected by the cell tower, the county board ultimately decided to table the request for one month, or until Oct. 5, so that new Saunders County Attorney Jennifer Joakim can become better acquainted with the issue at hand.

In other business, the board heard from different county employees about their budgets in preparation for the budget hearing that was on Sept. 14.

Elsie Stormberg is a reporter for The Ashland Gazette. Reach her via email at elsie.stormberg@wahoonewspaper.com.

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