By Dan Hust
KENOZA LAKE June 5, 2001 A small parcel of land off Mueller Road south of Kenoza Lake is the site of the newest proposed cell tower in Sullivan County.
Owned by Donna Ackermann and located near the Ackermann dairy farm in the Town of Cochecton, the 16-acre site would feature a 199-foot-high lattice communications tower, if approved.
Approval must come from the Cochecton Planning Board, to whom cell tower company SBA Properties made their presentation Thursday night at the town hall in Lake Huntington.
Weve determined theres a need for this facility. Its intended to provide coverage for the Route 17B and 52 corridors, said Mark Sweeney, an attorney with the Albany law firm representing SBA Properties. It would be 250 feet back from the road . . . [and] it would not need to be lit. It would be pushed up against a wooded area and screened on three sides.
In conjunction with SBAs Michael Hyde, Sweeney displayed several maps of the area, including one which showed the estimated visual impact of the tower. Sweeney said approximately 90 percent of the land within a quarter-mile of the tower would not afford any kind of view of the structure.
The tower would provide space for five cell phone/data/Internet carriers, and Sweeney said space would be offered for free to emergency organizations.
The plan is much like SBAs other cell tower projects in Eldred, Lava, Callicoon and Livingston Manor. Due to the hilly geography, Sweeney said theres a need for more towers to adequately service this area than in flatter locales. He added that one tower in Sullivan County generally provides strong cell phone signal service in a radius of five miles.
One site wont cover the entire [Delaware] river valley, he explained. The topography wont allow it.
Although SBA had looked at a microwave tower on top of a hill near Briscoe and Jeffersonville, Sweeney indicated it could not be utilized by the company. After discussions with the property owner, SBA chose the current proposed site, which is only a few hundred feet from Cochectons township border with Delaware.
Cochecton Planning Board members gave unanimous preliminary approval to SBA to continue the permit process with the board. Chair Bob DeMan said adjacent property owners will be notified and SBA is due back on June 28 to further discuss the issue. That planning board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the town hall on County Route 116 in Lake Huntington and is open to the public.