RAY BROOK - As the year comes to a close, the effects of new cell towers is becoming more widely felt, but not seen.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA), working in partnership with the telecommunication companies, approved 17 cellular projects in 2008. Many of these will serve the Northway corridor without sticking out in the Adirondack scenery.
Since 1973, the Agency has issued 67 new cellular carrier permits authorizing 73 activities. The Agency did not deny any telecommunication projects in 2008 or since its inception.
In 2008, the Agency issued six permits for new towers, nine general permits for co-location on existing structures and two permit amendments to replace or co-locate antennas.
The Agency's Towers Policy, revised in August of 2000, discourages mountaintop towers and promotes the co-location of facilities on existing structures. The policy is intended to protect the Adirondack Park's aesthetic and open space resources by requiring telecommunication tower sites to be "substantial invisible."
"The Park Agency would like to commend the cellular companies for their efforts to conscientiously select project sites that adhere to the Agency's Towers Policy," stated APA Chairman Curtis F. Stiles. "The success we are experiencing proves it's possible to implement cellular technology without adversely impacting the unique scenic appeal of the Adirondacks, which is fundamentally critical in sustaining many sectors of our economy."
Verizon Wireless' exit 29 tower located within one mile of the Northway in the Town of North Hudson, Essex County, is an excellent example of achieving substantial invisibility. The project includes the construction of an 84-foot telecommunications tower with a 12-panel antenna array (four 8-foot panels on each of three sides of the array) and a 10-foot high lightning rod attached to the top of the tower. The overall height of the approved tower is 94 feet. This tower provides coverage in a north and south direction from exit 29 along the corridor.
The Agency approved the tower based on its minimal impacts and high level of substantial invisibility. This site is completely back dropped by wooded hills. The tower height is nearly equal to the surrounding vegetation and the foreground includes tall trees to help blend the tower into the landscape. Verizon used dark gray paint tones to further conceal the tower. This type of effort allows for the integration of telecommunication technology without adversely impacting the scenic appeal of the Adirondack Park or dramatically altering community character.
Overall in 2008, Verizon Wireless was issued five permits for new towers and one general permit to co-locate antennas on an existing smokestack.
T-Mobile received eight general permit approvals to co-locate antennas; five were issued to co-locate on free standing towers along the Northway, one co-location on a water tank, one co-location on the Olympic ski jump in North Elba and one replacement and co-location.
AT&T secured one permit to construct a new tower, one general permit to co-locate on an existing tower and one permit amendment to replace antennas on an existing tower.
Independent Towers, LLC secured the first permit to construct a new tower designed to accommodate multiple carriers. AT&T and T-Mobile will provide service from this tower which is located between exit 32 and 33 in the Town of Lewis, Essex County. There is additional space for two more cellular carriers.
Significant progress was also made closing the coverage gap along Interstate 87. The Agency issued 12 permits for cellular projects between exit 23 and exit 34. Six general permits were issued that authorized the co-location of antennas on free- standing towers. Currently, five additional proposals for cellular coverage on the Northway are pending approval. Once approved and pending towers are constructed, coverage along the Northway through the Park will be greatly improved.