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Phone Tower Ordinance in the Works

By SUSAN KOOMAR
News and Business Editor

SNYDERSVILLE - A model cell tower ordinance is in the works to help wireless companies and municipal officials work together.

A 11-page draft of the ordinance was presented at Friday's meeting of the Pocono Telecommunications Task Force organized by state Rep. Kelly Lewis, R-189.

Task force member Rich Williams developed the ordinance based on several examples already in use. Williams helps wireless companies work with municipalities.

"A lot of times when we approach a community we find a very onerous ordinance. It seems they're trying to keep the carriers away," Williams said.

Lewis wants to help businesses roll out technology to meet local demand.

"One of our goals is to tell the cell phone industry 'We want your investment in our area'," he said.

Williams said he tried to balance the interests of municipalities and wireless companies in the ordinance, which addresses design, in-surance, inspection and other key issues.

Task force member Rick Bull of East Stroudsburg University suggested Williams edit the ordinance to a few pages of essential requirements, then include an addendum of optional items.

Lewis hopes to have a final version at the April 15 meeting of the task force. Then he plans to present it to the Monroe County Council of Governments, a group made up of representatives from each municipality.

Lewis renewed his call for a repeal of the gross receipts tax on cell phone companies enacted by the state Legislature in December.

Lewis is recruiting co-sponsors for his repeal bill, saying the tax will stifle creation of telecommunications jobs and rollout of new service across the state.

For information about the model cell tower ordinance or Pocono Telecommunications Task Force, call Lewis' office at (570) 420-2948. The next task force meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, April 15, at the Monroe County Public Safety Center in Snydersville.

"You want to make it simple so it's easier for people to work with," said Bull.

"We hope to have them adopt it as the model ordinance in Monroe County and do the same in Pike County," said Lewis. "We believe it helps the whole state if you have a model ordinance."

Copyright © March 27, 2004, Pocono Record