Residents longing for improved cell phone coverage in Tinicum Township, toward solving problems such as calls frequently being routed directly to voice mail, may have received a boost in the form of a 50 percent cell tower antenna expansion for one of the major carriers.
At their Dec. 4 public meeting, following a conditional use hearing, township supervisors approved a request from T-Mobile Northeast LLC to add three antennas, with associated hardware, to a cell tower on a private farm property in Ottsville, where they already have six antennas, while sharing the tower with other carriers.
During the hearing, the carrier called expert witnesses in civil and radio frequency engineering, as well as site acquisition, toward assuring compliance with safety and industry standards; lack of any new radio frequency interference problems; and adherence to various state and federal regulations. They also noted the new antenna type had been picked for best and most reliable coverage, as well as helping to lay the foundation for the company’s upcoming “5G rollout,” and added that no new groundwork would be required by the addition.
However, asked by supervisors, after the approval, if the antenna expansion could help with poor coverage in the vicinity of the township building on Municipal Road, they said it would not.
Officials were then quick to point out the availability of a site for a new tower nearby, on municipal property that could help significantly to improve coverage, while adding income for the township – something the tower on the private farm property cannot do.
The site acquisition expert said she would make note of the comment.
Several years ago, another carrier presented a proposal for a new tower on the municipal site, but later withdrew it. While there had been concerns from the surrounding community about an undesirable visual impact from a new tower, one official opined that the proposal had been withdrawn because the carrier didn’t see sufficient return on its investment by adding new customers.
Also at the Dec. 4 meeting, supervisors approved opening the public comment period for the purchase of a 25-acre conservation easement on the Keller property on Stagecoach Road in Pipersville.
The township’s share of $122,000, plus settlement costs, represents 41 percent of the easement cost, with the balance realized as a donation from the owner.
In his presentation on behalf of the township’s land preservation committee, Norm MacArthur said the property’s status as prime farmland; contributing to protection of the Tinicum Creek watershed; and highest priority rating from the county made it an especially attractive candidate for preservation.