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It'll be the fastest sprouting pine tree in the Town of Aurora when it's done growing.

And though it'll be made to resemble a pine tree, it'll be a fake.

In reality, the 80-foot-tall structure will be a disguised telecommunication wonder serving as a Nextel Partners cell tower in the heart of East Aurora.

Town Board members Monday formally approved a revised lease agreement between Aurora and Nextel for what's known as a monopine tower to be built on town land behind the town's highway barns off Route 20A.

Initially approved two years ago, the project stalled while the town's Zoning Board of Appeals and town officials clarified and revised the agreement between the town and Nextel. The original proposal called for a 180-foot tower. At the time, a balloon had been sent up over the village to note its potential visual impact.

Despite the town's final approval, Supervisor Terence M. Yarnall said he wasn't thrilled with the idea of a tower in the heart of town.

"There, we're giving ourselves a sick-looking tree," Yarnall said, just after the board's vote of approval.

Though the project initially came before the town under former Supervisor Thomas Cotton's administration, Yarnall still wasn't pleased Monday with the prospect of the tower off Quaker Road.

"It's a prime piece of commercial real estate that will be impacted," Yarnall said. "It's something we have to live with. I don't feel we need to expose our taxpayers to pending litigation (to fight it). I'm not real happy with letting this go through."

The lease calls for Nextel to pay the town a onetime $5,000 payment at the time a certificate of occupancy is issued. Monthly lease payments for Nextel are set at $800. Beyond that, any additional companies co-locating on the tower would pay the town $150 per month. Nextel is the primary tenant of the tower.

The town also would be allowed to install up to two antennas, rent-free, on the tower for communication purposes. The leased land is a 100-by-100-foot parcel.

Councilman Norman K. Suttell said the town had previously committed to the project. "I think it would be wrong to change our mind this far into this, unless there's some real serious reason," he said.

Councilman Dwight Krieger agreed. "I feel better with it now at 80 feet," he said. To fight it, would be "beating a dead horse," he said. "It's time to move on."

Nextel representatives indicated the tower would begin operating in February.


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