Sprint gets council OK for water tower space

Still needs Planning Board approval before it can lease from boro


SPOTSWOOD – The borough is moving forward carefully with a plan to allow Sprint Spectrum to place cellular antennas on the municipal water tower.

The tower already has three carriers, the same number it was designed to handle, in addition to other antennas that are used for public safety.

Mayor Barry Zagnit said Sprint would need Planning Board approval before it can install its antennas, in part because the borough wants to protect its investment.

“They need to submit plans and engineering to the Planning Board,” he said.

During its Sept. 17 meeting, the Borough Council approved a resolution that will allow the borough to execute a lease agreement with Sprint. The company would pay the borough nearly $29,000 per year for the water tower space.

The borough solicited bids several months ago to see if cellular carriers were interested in leasing additional space, according to borough Business Administrator Ronald Fasanello. Sprint expressed interest, but was told certain conditions had to be met before the lease could become official.

Fasanello said Sprint must show that it can have its antennas on the tower without interfering with the current carriers. In addition, Sprint will have to demonstrate that it can connect its antennas without causing any damage to the water tower.

“When they prove it is acceptable, then we can move forward with the final execution,” Fasanello said.

Sprint will not be allowed to do any welding, he said, and will have to be careful with the positioning of its transmission lines.

“There are several requirements they must meet to fulfill the engineer’s requirements,” Fasanello said.

Zagnit said that when the tower was improved, the town made a provision to put corners on the tank. The town also had to install railings that were of certain strengths.

Sprint asserts that the railings are adequate in strength for the new antennas, but must present evidence on that issue, Zagnit said. In addition, Sprint must demonstrate how it would bring its cables to the ground. There are only three cable trays there, and all are being used.

“The burden is on them to show us it will work,” Zagnit said.

The three carriers that already lease space are Verizon, Cingular and T-Mobile. Each company pays the borough between $34,000 and $35,000 per year.

Each carrier actually has three antennas on the tower.

“They all use arrays,” Zagnit said. “To get adequate cell coverage, the transmitter needs to be within a certain area. In order to cover distances and overlap, they put the antennas in three different directions.”