Clifton Park hammers out cell tower rules

Industry representatives are taking issue with some of the additions, however.

The law requires any new towers to be built at least 500 feet away from residential property, a matter Town Supervisor Philip Barrett said the town would "stand firm" at the final public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 2. He read letters from industry representatives criticizing the measure as "unreasonably burdensome."

Scott Olson, a member of the New York State Wireless Association board of directors, was an industry representative who attended the public hearing. The 500-foot buffer is of concern to him and the association, but he also pointed to what he described as hurdles in the application process.

"I can go into the Town of Clifton Park, I can make an application for a special-use permit for any kind of use except for tower use, and pay $200," he said in a later interview. "It's $5,000 for tower use."

The law also requires applicants to place $7,500 in an escrow fund to go toward the costs of processing the application. Any unused portion will be returned, but if the fund falls below $2,000, it must be replenished by the applicant. According to Olson, this "blank check" escrow could be illegal.

"The potential is there for the application review to be never-ending," he said. "If they pass the provision, it could expose them to risk down the road. A provider could sue the town and seek a refund."

Some residents questioned why greater restrictions couldn't be placed on cell towers because of health concerns. The board explained that the federal act prohibits strengthening regulations based on potential health risk outside of federal standards.""

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