County Legislators Request A More “Flexible” Policy Regarding Towers

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Fulton County legislators are requesting a change to the Adirondack Park Agency’s (APA) policy for the siting of telecommunications towers to encourage more infrastructure. Currently, cell phone service is unavailable in many areas of the Adirondacks, reported the Leader-Herald.

According to County Administrative Officer Jon Stead, the proposed changes are more “flexible.” He added that many communities are now calling for an amended APA tower policy “to allow and encourage improved cell phone and emergency radio communications.”

The Adirondack Local Government Review Board and Adirondack region municipalities suggest a more relaxed standard of “not readily discernible” for tower siting, as opposed to the current APA standard of “substantially invisible,” reported the Leader-Herald

Last week, The Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee passed a proposed resolution requesting the APA review and modify its tower policy, including:

  • A height “incentive” of 10 to 15 feet above the tree line and a “bonus” height of 10 to 20 feet above tree canopy for new towers in unserved areas.
  • Offering general permits for carrier antennas on existing structures.
  • Adding a requirement that carriers submit a map showing tower coverage so the APA commissioners can weigh visibility against public benefit.

“Cell phones are an important tool used by emergency response personnel, including forest rangers, police, fire and ambulance services to receive reports of incidents, provide lifesaving instructions, and to locate lost or injured people,” the resolution says. “Life-threatening incidents have occurred in the Adirondacks during which the lack of cell phone and emergency radio service has led to delays to response, and to worsen outcomes for the people involved, including deaths.”

The full board will review the proposed resolution on July 13.

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