Board decides not to waive telecommunications pole fee




FLINT TWP. — Perhaps setting the tone for the rest of the county, the township board has refused to waive a monthly pole colocation fee requested by a telecommunications company. Pending its application to operate in Flint Township, ACD.net, a Lansing-based cellphone and internet service provider, asked the township to waive a $75 monthly per pole maintenance fee because it plans to “colocate’” on existing telecommunications poles rather than build new ones. ACD.net said its request is made because other municipalities waive the fee. Township Clerk Kathy Funk said she consulted Tim Lundgren, the township’s cable attorney, who said that waiving the fee would encourage more colocation rather than the installation of new poles. Funk said the board had the choice of taking no action or agreeing to waive the fee. After a lengthy discussion, the board chose to take no action. Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said the company would “have a hard time” getting approval from the road commission to build new poles in the right-of-way. She also said she was concerned about consequently having to waive fees for other telecommunication companies doing business in the township. Treasurer Lisa Anderson questioned how much money was in question. Funk said she did not know because the ACD.net application has not yet been submitted, pending the board’s response to the fee waiver request. Trustee Tom Klee said he was not in favor of giving up that revenue stream and getting nothing in return. He also suggested lowering the fee, as an alternative, in order to retain some revenue. Trustee Frank Kasle asked what would be the consequences for not waiving the fee. Funk said she was not sure but suspected the issue might land in court. This is not just a local issue, but a national one, she said of telecommunications taking municipalities to court over the right to build towers and such. Kasle also asked what other communities in Genesee County or doing when faced with similar requests Funk said that as far as she knows, Flint Township is first. “We are the guinea pigs,” she said. With more applications likely to come with the growth of telecommunications providers, Funk said that Lundgren suggested that the board might want to establish a policy for all future applications, instead of granting a one-time waiver to ACD.net. Funk also noted that had the board decided to waive the pole fee, ACD. net still would be required to pay the township’s $500 application fee.


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