A permit for a proposed telecommunications tower in the town of Holland has been pulled from consideration by a La Crosse County Board committee, but it’s unclear whether it’s gone for good.
Bug Tussel Wireless has asked the county to pull the tower from the agenda for the Jan. 3 meeting of the Planning, Resources and Development Committee. The committee considered the tower permit application at its December meeting, which drew about 20 neighbors, many of whom spoke in opposition to the tower.
Bug Tussel, which is based in Green Bay, also pulled the tower from the Holland Town Board agenda meeting.
Under new regulations included in the 2013 budget bill, local governments can no longer deny wireless tower permits solely for aesthetic reasons, limit the height of towers to under 200 feet, or require that antennas and structures be placed on public property, such as water towers.
Local officials can deny a tower permit if the applicant does not investigate “co-location” — putting equipment on another provider’s tower — but there are few other options local governments can turn to for preventing erection of a telecommunications tower. They also can’t prohibit towers from going in specific locations and they can’t force companies to do environmental testing or require monitoring for radio frequency emissions.
Committee members considered not taking a vote on the conditional-use permit application for the tower and having it gain automatic approval under the state law, but that would strategy would deprive the county of the chance to impose some limited conditions on the tower, such as a minimum setback from the road and a $20,000 bond to guarantee removal of the tower should it no longer be needed.
Bug Tussel focuses on improving cell phone reception and providing mobile internet access in rural areas. The company helps the big cell phone providers improve reception in rural areas, particularly in major highway corridors.
Asked whether pulling the tower from the agenda meant the company was giving up on the idea, Bug Tussel President and CEO Steve Schneider was noncommittal.
“Bug Tussel Wireless is reviewing all of its options,” Schneider said. “As I indicated previously, our goal is to provide ubiquitous mobile broadband and fixed broadband services throughout La Crosse County. I would not say that the handful of people opposing a particular tower will stop the project. As you know and as the board has stated, state law permits the siting of towers within the parameters we have applied and we will always operate within the legal and regulatory parameters provided by law.”
“Bug Tussel Wireless is reviewing all of its options. ... I would not say that the handful of people opposing a particular tower will stop the project.” Steve Schneider,
Bug Tussel president and CEO
“Bug Tussel Wireless is reviewing all of its options. ... I would not say that the handful of people opposing a particular tower will stop the project.”
Steve Schneider, Bug Tussel president and CEO
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.