The Mount Kisco Planning Board will prepare to make a determination on Homeland Towers’ proposed cell tower next month despite the applicant having failed to appear before the board for the past two months’ meetings.
In February, the Village Board and Homeland Towers agreed to a 60-day extension of the deadline for the board to make a decision under the federal government’s Telecommunications Act. That extension expires on Apr. 14, the day after the Planning Board’s next scheduled meeting.
The federal law requires municipalities to make a decision on cell tower applications within 150 days of their submission unless there is mutual consent to extend the time frame.
However, Homeland Towers, which has proposed a 145-foot monopole on less than 4,000 square feet of the 25-acre parcel at 180 S. Bedford Rd., has failed to replenish its escrow account for nearly two months, forcing the board to remove them from agendas since early February. The escrow account is used to reimburse professional consultants hired to assess the application on behalf of the village.
Currently, the issue facing the Planning Board is whether it can accurately assess whether a proposed alternate location being considered by the applicant at 21 Linden Lane on the Bedford side of the town line is less intrusive and can address the cell service coverage gaps along the Route 172 corridor more effectively than the South Bedford Road location.
“From my perspective and having done the site visit, the applicant has provided incomplete responses to our staff and consultants and that just doesn’t bode will for a full assessment of this application,” said Planning Board Acting Chair Michael Bonforte.
Village Attorney Whitney Singleton said that Homeland Towers appears to be pursuing the alternate Bedford parcel with the property owner with some degree of urgency. However, Mount Kisco has failed to receive key pieces of information from the applicant, including answers to questions regarding emergency access, drive-by data and visual impacts at the alternate site, he said.
As a result, the Planning Board should list all information it is missing and be prepared to render a determination at its Apr. 13 meeting.
“Unfortunately, without them at least partially restoring the escrow account and without them providing us with information, it’s going to be very hard for your board to make a determination that addresses anything substantively, whether their proposed site is warranted and whether it’s the least intrusive location or whether this alternate site is,” Singleton said.
Two of the village’s experts, Simon Kates, associate principal at BFJ Planning, and consulting engineer Anthony Oliveri said the alternate site at Linden Lane is promising. Kates said it could be less intrusive and there are no steep slopes and wetlands to contend with. It is also a previously developed parcel. However, much more analysis is required, he said.
“The site looked like it was doable, quite possibly within the zoning, with zoning compliance, it actually looked like less impactful in terms of steep slopes and no wetlands impacts,” Oliveri said.
Planning officials said the Village Board would rather not have a decision made by default on the application.
Singleton said despite some sharp disagreements, the village is still prepared to work with Homeland Towers.
“They’ve been advised that the village is willing to work with them and that in the event they were consenting to a 60-day extension of the shot clock and acknowledge they would be making payments toward their fees on a payment plan, that we would allow them on tonight’s agenda,” Singleton said. “They have declined those items.”
The public hearing on the proposed solar farm, that would be also be installed on a different portion of 180 S. Bedford Rd., was adjourned until Apr. 13.