Cell tower proposed for Manor-North Huntingdon border | TribLIVE.com

Cell tower proposed for Manor-North Huntingdon border

Joe Napsha
Jor Napsha | Tribune-Review
Telecommunications tower along Brush Creek Road, Hempfield Township. Verizon Wireless is proposing to build a tower in North Huntingdon, off Sandy Hill Road.

Verizon Wireless customers in eastern North Huntingdon, Manor and the Adamsburg areas should get better coverage for phone and data if the company builds a cellphone tower on property Manor owns in North Huntingdon, a Verizon attorney said.

The township zoning hearing board this week granted TowerCo 2013 LLC and Verizon Wireless variances from requirements that telecommunications towers be built 195 feet from a property line. The board also granted Verizon and Cary, N.C.-based TowerCo a variance from the requirement towers cannot be within two miles of another one.

Verizon and TowerCo had appealed zoning officer Thomas McGuire’s decision to deny a permit to build a 190-foot tower within a 75-foot-by-75-foot fenced-in area on an Oakside Drive parcel, said Joseph Cortese, a Pittsburgh attorney representing Verizon. The company wants to build the tower as soon as possible.

The tower is to be built fewer than 195 feet from the property line because that was the best spot on the 3.3-acre parcel to get the most coverage, Cortese said.

The new tower would be within two miles of other towers, including ones near Adamsburg, North Irwin and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, because of the need to close coverage gaps, Cortese said. More towers are necessary because customers increasingly use phones and other electronics for data and video, Cortese said.

“It is increasingly more difficult to site the communications towers,” Cortese said. Western Pennsylvania’s hilly topography also creates more challenges for providing coverage, Cortese said.

Two nearby residents, Sherry and Edward Pecora of Sandy Hill Road, expressed concerns about safety issues with the tower, with radio frequency signals within a quarter-mile of their home.

The federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits the zoning board from considering evidence of potential health effects from the radio frequency signals used in wireless communication, Cortese said.

The tower would be on land Manor Borough acquired for a sewage treatment facility for a housing plan, said Joseph Lapia, Manor Borough manager.

Manor signed an agreement with TowerCo last year to rent the space for the cell tower, Lapia said. The agreement is contingent upon Verizon obtaining all necessary state and local approvals, Lapia said. Township planning commission members and commissioners must approve the site plan for the tower.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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