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Directors of the Niagara County Sewer District gave conditional approval Wednesday to a proposal by the Sprint Communications Co. to erect a relay tower on sewer district property.

The approval was granted on the condition that the company obtain approval from the Wheatfield Town Board. The sewer district's resolution also left up to the Town Board the height limitations of the tower.

The district's conditional OK came after a lengthy discussion among the directors who were concerned about any sublease agreements Sprint might make with other communications carriers who might want to use some of the space on the tower.

Steven J. Tanelli, representing the applicant, said there is no way of knowing at this stage of negotiations whether any additional companies would want to occupy space on the tower. He said Sprint will need 150 feet of tower to satisfy its customers.

According to the tentative agreement, drafted with the sewer district's attorney, Robert Roberson, the 150-foot tower would be built at the tenant's expense. The tenant would pay an annual lease of $10,000 to the sewer district.

The original lease would be for five years with four subsequent terms of five years each with each carrying a 20 percent rental increase.

Although Sprint's original proposal calls for a 150-foot tower, that height could be increased to 170 or 180 feet. Any increase, Roberson said, would be up to the Wheatfield Town Board.

The base of the tower would be six feet in diameter and 16 feet deep. The tenant, according to the conditional agreement, will carry $3 million worth of insurance naming the district beneficiary. It also will place $20,000 in escrow in case the tenant abandons the tower and fails to remove it and the removal work has to be undertaken by the district.

The tenant will pay all utility charges and will be obligated to remove the tower within 90 days of the termination of the lease.

Wheatfield Councilman James Grawe told the directors the town officials probably will act on the application within the next two weeks.

In other action, Roberson explained to the directors the repayment schedule agreed upon with the Town of Niagara over disputed sewer construction costs. The district is to receive a total of $630,000, plus $81,900 over a five year period. The payments will be made at the rate of $126,000 a year.

The suit arose when the town refused to pay four claims for sewer construction for the years of 1992, 1993, 1993 and 1994 totaling $512,000. The town, at the time, alleged it did not owe the money inasmuch as the work was not done in the town. The district took the town to State Supreme Court, saying that the town, as part of the district, is responsible for its share of any encumbrances incurred by the district.

The settlement includes not only the original amount, but interest and costs incurred since the suit was originated.

The case eventually went to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court which ratified the decision. Roberson said the settlement, which has been approved by the Niagara Town Board, will be sent to State Supreme Court Justice Norman E. Joslin for his approval.

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