DARLINGTON - At a Public Hearing held by the Lafayette County Planning and Zoning Committee on Friday, Jan. 19, 2017, two companies were competing to give the Village of Gratiot and Gratiot Township, cellular service.
The Public Hearing was for all those who had interest in the application of United States Cellular Operating Company, LLC for a conditional use permit for the construction of a 200 foot self-supported telecommunication site in the Town of Gratiot.
The US Cellular tower would be built on David Hodgson property just west of the Village of Gratiot in the Town of Gratiot. Hodgson was present and spoke in favor of the tower. The request passed through Town of Gratiot board. Todd Anderson, representing US Cellular, stated the reason for the tower is to give that area better coverage.
Lafayette County Planning and Zoning Department Head – Terry Loeffelholz pointed out that a permit was issued to Bug Tussel Wireless of Green Bay to build a tower on Ralph Stietz property, less that 3,500 feet from the proposed US Cellular tower in April of 2016.
The public comment portion of the hearing was next and committee chair Jack Wiegel recognized Steve Schneider, President/CEO and founder of Bug Tussel Wireless.
Schnieder began by saying, “We are willing and prepared to spend about $5 million shoring up and extending the broadband and wireless system in Lafayette County. We think it’s an important initiative. We have started building several towers in the county of those that were approved. Our towers provide both broadband and cellular. I think the US Cellular tower on the agenda tonight is less than a mile from the tower that was approved for us. We would be more than willing to lease space to US Cellular at the same rate they lease space to us.”
At the October Zoning meeting the committee approved two towers and denied five towers that Bug Tussel applied for.
Wiegel stated, “The reason this committee denied five of the seven Bug Tussel towers that came before the committee is because land owners adjacent to the towers came to the hearing that didn’t want them and Bug Tussel didn’t go to the townships and get their approval first and neighbors that came to the hearing that were against the towers. So if you would have gone to the townships first, that would have gone a long way when it came to this committee.”
Schnieder stated, “The Bug Tussel towers will handle carriers AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, plus our towers also provide broadband capabilities. That would give Lafayette County residents more options (in regard to rate plans). I apologize that we didn’t do the right process. I’m not here to ask anything from you tonight, I’m here to tell you who we are, and to tell you that I really want to serve Lafayette. I thought people wanted us here.” He continued, “I didn’t realize that these permits expired in six months. Right now we have activity in Belmont South, Blanchardville, Lamont, Darlington and Gratiot.” Loeffelholz stated the Blanchardville, Gratiot and Darlington towers are in townships that are not zoned, so they didn’t need permission from this zoning board. The Gratiot tower has not been revoked. In a phone interview Schnieder said the Gratiot project is moving forward.
A motion was made by Dwayne Larson and seconded by Larry Ludlum to grant US Cellular a permit to build a tower on the David Hodgson land, the tower must be completed by December of 2018. Approved unanimously.