Township board OKs new cell phone tower

FLINT TWP. — The township board has approved a lease agreement with Cingular Wireless to build a cell phone tower on Charter Drive, east of Linden Road and south of Calkins Road.

This follows postponing the decision earlier this month in order to clarify terms that allow for an initial five-year agreement with an extension option lasting up to 25 years.

Some board members had concerns about contract language limiting the board’s right to terminate the lease before then, if so desired.

Trustee Belenda Parker said she wanted language included in the contract to prevent giving the tenants “total control over our property’’ for up to 25 years, unless they chose to terminate the contract. She wanted the township to also have termination rights.

Tracey Tucker, building director, said cell phone towers are expensive to build and Cingular might not agree to terms that did not include an option of remaining up to 25 years. The lease is renewable in five-year increments and could continue indefinitely after that under one-year terms, unless either party decides to terminate.

The board voted unanimously to approve the lease agreement. Trustee Frank Kasle was absent.

The township will be paid $1,000 a month rent until the tower is built and $1,500 a month afterwards.

The township owns several parcels of land on Charter Drive and is in the process of trying to sell some of them.

The township already has similar lease agreements with other cell phone companies. This new contract will bring in revenues of $12,000 a year until the tower is built and $18,000 a year after it is built. In a separate action, the board also approved a five-year extension of an existing METRO Act Permit with Michigan Bell Telephone Company, doing business as AT&T.

Legislation passed in 2002 formed a body called the Metropolitan Extension Telecommunications Rights-of-Way Oversight (METRO) Authority to help telecommunication companies cut through red tape to obtain permits from municipalities without having to pay excessive fees or endure long delays, according to information provided on the website of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The METRO Acts were designed to facilitate the availability of affordable high-speed Internet connections. AT&T’s METRO agreement with Flint Township expires July 31. The extension is until July 31, 2019.

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