For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD — A popular open green space on Marshfield’s southeast side might be used for a new telecommunications tower.
The Marshfield Common Council voted 7-3 May 9 in favor of continuing negotiations with developers to possibly build the tower on a parcel of land — not in the originally proposed open space but behind a nearby tree line — near the corner of 17th Street and Butternut Parkway.
Alderman Jason Zaleski represents that neighborhood and voted against the recommendation.
“I believe that, as elected officials, our first priority is to represent the people of the city,” Zaleski said. He added that he spoke with 19 of the people living closest to the area, and all 19 opposed the initial tower location.
“They’re not saying ‘no.’ They’re just asking for a different choice mainly because of that green space and how well-manicured it’s been over the years, and their quality of life with having that green space there in that residential neighborhood is a big, big deal to them,” Zaleski said.
Alderman Tom Witzel also voted against the proposed location.
“It does concern me the footprint this is going to have and the aesthetics it’ll have in the neighborhood. I also don’t really understand, looking at a map of Marshfield, why we can’t move it slightly more to the east, where it would potentially border a whole lot less properties and be a whole lot less of an eyesore,” said Witzel.
Alderman Chris Jockheck joined Witzel and Zaleski in voting against the recommendation.
Marshfield Mayor Chris Meyer said the challenge with locating the tower is that it is quite large, and a possible solution would be to negotiate construction of the tower in a less-visible location but on the same piece of city-owned property. Meyer brought up pushing the cell tower back into the wooded area on that same parcel of land.
Shane Begley of Begley Wireless Consulting is working with Central States Tower on constructing a cell tower in that part of Marshfield. Begley said the open parcel is the optimal location, and any deviation east or west would not hit the area developers are trying to reach.
“To the east of this location, it’s all residential. And as far as pushing it back into the trees, that is a designated wetland area, and it takes a lot of regulatory stuff that we have to go through for that, and there’s no guarantee. And so anytime you start going into a wetland-type scenario, there’s a lot of unknowns. Is there endangered species in there that we have to worry about? I’m not saying we can’t go into the trees, but it’s just one of those areas we try to avoid at all costs because there is so much wildlife and so forth that are in there,” said Begley.
Begley said Verizon would be the anchor tenant for the new cell tower, which would net the city around $10,000 in annual rental fees.
If approved, the project would need to pass the city’s conditional use permitting process.