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Verizon deadline looms for proposed North Huntingdon cell tower

| Friday, April 21, 2017, 6:57 a.m.

Verizon Wireless has until May 18 to file an application for a conditional use of a slice of a 65-acre farm along Guffey Road in North Huntingdon for the construction of a 195-foot cellular tower, or the township could have the grounds to reject the proposed project, the township's solicitor said last week.

North Huntingdon, however, would have to conduct a public hearing on the application if Verizon submits such an application, Bruce Dice, township solicitor, told opponents of the tower at the recent commissioners meeting.

The legal process allows the township to set what fellow solicitor Craig Alexander last month called “reasonable conditions” for Verizon's use of that part of Thomas Kerber's property near Thoroughbred and Halfinger drives.

“The commissioners would have to decide if they meet the criteria for a conditional use. If they meet the criteria, the township most likely would have to approve it,” Dice said. “You'd be hard-pressed to deny them.”

The township zoning hearing board granted Ver­izon a variance Nov. 1 to build the tower on property zoned for residential use. The 30-day period to appeal the zoning hearing board decision has passed, and neither the township nor residents now have grounds to appeal, Dice said.

The planning commission last month recommended approval of the site plan. Kerber, who sits on the planning commission, did not vote on the issue. Commissioners, however, delayed taking action last month.

Kerber, who did not attend last week's meeting, could not be reached for comment.

Verizon attorney Joseph Perotti also did not attend the meeting and could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Last month, he said the Federal Communications Commission has mandated the municipality make a decision within 150 days of the Nov. 1 hearing. If it did not meet the deadline, then the plans are considered approved, he said.

The plans for a cellular tower on that site have run into intense opposition from residents who live in the Kerber Farm Estates, which borders Kerber's property.

“We're just frustrated because we're not getting information,” said Danielle Janicki, one of the opponents of the cell tower.

Janicki said she was upset the zoning hearing board made its decision granting the variance without its solicitor at the meeting.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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