The city’s planning commission is recommending approval of a special use permit to permanently remove a flag from a disguised cell tower.

The owner of the tower, SBA, contacted the city with a request to place additional antennas on the tower located at 85 Cecelia Drive. It is located east of Burger Park.

According to Community and Economic Development Director Sal Maniaci, SBA representatives stated the flag would interfere with the new equipment requiring them to remove the flag indefinitely.

He explained that since the tower is in an M-1 light industrial district and never received a special use permit in the first place, in order to remove the flag and no longer disguise the tower, they are required to now obtain a special use permit.

According to Maniaci SBA representatives indicated that the existing flag would interfere with new equipment to be installed. The proposed antenna will not increase the height of the tower.

Manaici added city staff recommends approval of the request which will not harm the surrounding area.

The planning board voted 5-4 in favor of the request. Planning commission members who voted to approve the request were Tony Gokenbach, Carolyn Witt, Tom Holdmeier, John Borgmann and Chuck Watson. Voting against it were Greg Skornia, Mark Kluesner, Mayor Sandy Lucy and Samantha Cerutti Wacker.

Keep the Flag

There were some residents who asked that SBS keep the flag on the pole.

“I would hate to see the flag not out there anymore,” said Tom Fenner. “I am a veteran and I like that flag.”

Robert Ohlrich also spoke to the commission requesting the flag continue to fly on the cell tower.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I think the flag should remain.”

According to Ashley Wessell, who was representing SBA, the flag must be removed to allow for new “tenants,” or cell service providers, on the tower.

Radiation

There were some residents who live near the cell tower who expressed concern about the radiation level emitted from the tower.

Steve Underwood stated he would like the levels of radiation be monitored to ensure it is safe.

Donn Riechman also expressed concern about radiation levels.

“My concern is getting radiation levels too close to folks who live near the tower,” he said.

City Attorney Mark Piontek said the Federal Communications Commission regulates cell towers and the city can’t trump federal laws. He later added that state statute stipulates that municipal governments cannot question radiation levels, and many other cell tower specifics, for cell towers.