Chocolay cell tower plan worth further exploration

A lot of people don’t care to have a cell phone tower in their neighborhood, but most recognize the need to have them strategically located for good coverage. Such placement is particularly necessary in rural areas, such as the Upper Peninsula.

This appears to be the case in Chocolay Township, where the township is working on an agreement with Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, an affiliate of AT&T, to install a signal tower in the Silver Creek Recreation Area.

Township officials said the proposal met with no major opposition, and the tower shouldn’t be visible from the recreation area or the roadway. Cingular Wireless wants the tower there because of its proximity to the U.S. 41/M-28 intersection, which is a short distance south of the location. The new location should provide better service for township residents, township Manager Steve Lawry said.

There is one hurdle still to be cleared with the project, though, which involves providing replacement recreation acreage as required by the state. This mitigation is necessary because Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant funds were used by the township to develop the soccer fields and adjacent parking area, and a requirement of the grant is the use of the property is limited to public recreation.

Lawry said the township is looking at acquiring property to provide a new entrance to the recreation area, which would help satisfy the recreation requirement and eliminate the need for recreation area users to drive through the Silver Creek Church parking lot.

In addition, Lawry said when the new entrance property is combined with the township’s proposed community garden, the requirement to provide 2,500 square feet of replacement recreation land would be satisfied.

In addition, Lawry said one or two holes of the disc golf course might have to be realigned to accommodate the cell phone tower, which shouldn’t be a major problem.

He also said the township might want to consider revenues from the tower agreement being designated for recreation improvements at the Silver Creek facility or elsewhere in the township.

As long as there hasn’t been objections from nearby property owners, the cell phone tower proposal appears to be a solid plan with the end result being better cell phone coverage for the township.