Colonie adopts wireless fees

Move would increase application fees for companies

The Colonie Town Board adopted new application fees Thursday, Nov. 19, for the construction of new wireless towers and modifications to existing towers.

The resolution was adopted with a 4-to-3 vote, with Republicans Tom With, Brian Hogan and Nicole Criscione-Szesnat opposed.

This resolution goes along with the Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Siting Law passed Thursday, Nov. 5, that enables the town to modify its special-use permits in correlation with wireless telecommunications and alter the facilities regulations.

Prior to the Nov. 5 resolution, Town Attorney Michael Magguilli said the laws would serve to have the town fairly compensated for rent, or usage, of pre-existing cell phone towers set up on town property. The resolutions were drafted after Magguilli said it came to the town's attention that the town has been underpaid for use of town property by the owners of the towers.

Now we're in a position to start getting fair market value, and it's our belief that the town was not getting fair market value under the prior administration, Magguilli said Friday, Nov. 20. "We brought the law into the 21st century."

Magguilli said the town has been underpaid for the existing towers since about 1998. While the laws are not retroactive, Magguilli said he expects the town to finally be receiving fair market value for the rents in the future.

In the past, the town has also allowed the wireless telecommunication providers to go on to town land and make modifications to the towers to enhance their service and therefore their business, Magguilli said, and the town had not charged additional fees for doing so.

"They make more money because of the new equipment, and I think the town should have a share in that," he said.

Three public hearings were held on the resolutions that were passed on Nov. 5, with wireless providers from Verizon, and other, smaller companies saying the laws are not "palatable" to the communication companies.

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