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Emergency radio tower under construction in Lewiston prompts a special meeting

LEWISTON – Both residents and town officials are looking for answers and expressing their concerns about a more than 200-foot-high radio tower currently being built adjacent to the Upper Mountain Road Volunteer Fire Department.

Niagara County Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, said he will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Upper Mountain Road fire hall, 839 Moyer Road. Also joining him will be those involved in the siting decisions for the radio tower, including County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz.

The construction caught most residents near the fire hall and even Town Board members by surprise when it started last month. All said they were never consulted. Town Building Inspector Timothy Masters tried unsuccessfully to put a stop order on the tower – a designated Niagara County project – which he said went up with no permits and no notices to the town or its tower committee. He said the emergency fire tower violates town height and setback restrictions and the town disaster plan.

“It never went through the process. It just went up,” said Masters. “They put the tower in the most restrictive zoning location in the Town of Lewiston. They’ve got miles of Power Authority property behind it that you could have put it in.”

“It’s frustrating for me,” said Masters. “And there are all these angry residents on Upper Mountain Road who are demanding an answer.”

The tower in Lewiston is part of a $6.8 million Niagara County project to construct emergency towers throughout Niagara County and was approved by the Legislature in 2013. The project, a requirement of the Federal Communications Commission, is designed so that emergency radio systems take up less space on the broadcast spectrum, a so-called “narrow-banding” mandate.

In announcing the special meeting Monday, Ross said he has taken note of the concerns and wants to make sure residents’ voices are heard – and clear up misinformation.