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Details on proposed cell towers in Depew offered

Depew residents got their first look Monday night at a proposal to build at least three, possibly four, cell towers in the village.

Blue Wireless, a small local wireless carrier, wants to expand its high-speed 4G/LTE coverage into Depew, Donald W. Carpenter, principal of Carpenter Consulting Group, a contractor for the carrier, said during a 90-minute public hearing.

Initial plans call for replacing the slim, 125-foot-tall monopole towers at the Municipal Building on Manitou Street and Department of Public Works building near Borden Road with 155-foot-tall, three-legged, self-supported towers. A third tower would be built along Taylor Road, between George Urban Boulevard and Walden Avenue, in the village’s West End.

“It’s very well buffered back there,” Carpenter said of the Taylor tower after some residents raised concerns. “It’ll be very isolated. You’ll still likely see it from Walden, but it’s not going to be in anybody’s picture window.”

A fourth tower off Beach Avenue in the village’s eastern portion is still “up in the air,” Carpenter said.

Also outlined were potential benefits for the village, including free mobile Wi-Fi hotspots and phone and internet service for the village’s Police and Fire departments and some elected officials and government employees. The village could annually save up to $38,165 in projected costs for those services, according to one estimate.

Carpenter said those terms were unique among the lease arrangements he has worked out with local municipalities. Typically, a wireless carrier will pay a flat monthly lease fee.

But he and Corey A. Auerbach, an attorney for Barclay Damon, said to the capacity crowd in Village Hall that no formal application is before the village and no contract has been signed.

Village Attorney Kathleen McDonald said village officials had not withheld information about the proposal from residents, after some in the audience questioned the village’s transparency on the issue.

“Nobody’s hiding anything from you,” she said. “It just takes a long time for all the negotiations, which, by right, are not public because we’re trying to work something out – a little give, a little take – and then we bring it before you.”

She said when an application is filed, Blue Wireless will have to go through “many layers,” including the village Planning Board and possibly the Zoning Board.

“Now, you all know about it,” she said. “You’re all here and now, you know what the further process is going to be, and you’re all welcome to come back.”