North Buffalo Data Tower Permit Would Require Variance

The possible telecommunications towers would be close to other North Buffalo Township towers - including the WTYM Radio AM 1380 tower on Bunker Hill Road (KP File Photo).

The possible telecommunications towers would be close to other North Buffalo Township towers – including the WTYM Radio AM 1380 tower on Bunker Hill Road (KP File Photo).

by Jonathan Weaver

A zoning hearing may be the next step for a Florida company that wants to build telecommunication towers in North Buffalo Township.

At last night’s seasonal Planning Commission meeting, members noted a building permit from Skyway Towers, LLC (of Tampa, Fla.) is “out of (their) hands” due to current ordinances, according to Chair Michael Valencic.

Attorneys for Skyway Towers may request a variance – which is decided by the zoning hearing board.

Township Supervisor Chair David Wolfe said a Skyway Towers site development manager first inquired about possible data towers in May.

“One of the issues in the existing ordinance is the proximity of other towers – such as the WTYM AM Radio tower and there’s another communication tower over the hill. The ordinance has a restriction in there of two miles,” Wolfe said. “There’s nobody that wants a landscape in any municipality of nothing but towers or billboards or gigantic buildings.”

Wolfe is also concerned since the Skyway Towers’ official said company engineers have the right to place towers every half-mile.

“We don’t want a township of towers, and I want to see what kind of impact where they do have multiple towers in the area – what that has done to the property values of the people that surrounded them,” Wolfe said. “I think that’s important to look at. Whether that’s in Beaver or wherever, I’ll go and check that out.”

Building Inspector Fred Dzugan has also reportedly determined that the first phase of Skyway Towers’ plan does not comply with township ordinances.

The towers would boost a telecommunications provider’s data and cover “dead zones” within the township.

Zoning Hearing Board officials are only called into session when an appeal is filed.

Skyway Towers’ interactive website indicates the company currently has two towers in Western Pennsylvania – near Business Route 422 and the Indiana Mall in Indiana County and in Farmington, Washington County.

Wolfe also reported to Planning Commission members information presented during last week’s monthly meeting – including regarding grant applications for road and police upgrades, township building improvements and maintenance vehicle purchases.

“It’s constant that we’re looking at ways to save money here,” Wolfe said. “I’m adamant about holding costs.”

The three members present will also recommend township supervisors adopt new regulations instituted by the Federal Aviation Administration regarding drones and Valencic – who was re-appointed as Planning Commission Chair at the beginning of the meeting – reiterated his hope for planning and zoning ordinances to be posted on a new township website.