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Twp. could get cell towers by water treatment plant, in park

by CJ Carnacchio

September 18, 2013

Oxford Township's water fund could get a financial boost if a cellular tower is constructed near one of the municipality's treatment plants.

Last week, the township board voted 6-0 to continue discussions regarding a request to lease 2,500 square feet of space on the water treatment plant property at Dunlap and Seymour Lake roads, so AT&T could construct a monopole tower and ground facilities to increase its wireless coverage.

"Do you know how much money this means to the township?" asked Trustee Jack Curtis.

"Between $1,000 and $1,500 a month," replied Supervisor Bill Dunn.

"Some townships get approximately $18,000 yearly to $22,000," said Curtis, who noted that doesn't include the extra revenue that could be generated from allowing other wireless providers to attach their equipment to the tower.

"There's a lot of money to be made," said Curtis, adding that wireless facility lease agreements typically include a 3 percent annual increase in rental fees.

Any money generated by having a cell tower on this property would go directly into the township's water fund because the property is technically owned by the municipality's approximately 2,500 water customers.

The possibility of additional revenue for the water fund is welcome news to township officials who have been keeping a watchful eye on the water system's finances in order to ensure it has enough money to cover its debt payments.

In 2005, a bond was issued through Oakland County to construct two water treatment plants and a 1 million-gallon elevated storage tank on N. Oxford Rd.

The outstanding principal is $9 million. Factor in interest and the township's water users owe approximately $13 million.

October 2030 is when the township is scheduled to make its last bond payment. However, it's likely the bond will be refinanced in two years.

The water treatment plant isn't the only site being considered for a cell tower.

Ron Davis, director of the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Department, confirmed that his department is currently negotiating a lease agreement to place an AT&T tower at Seymour Lake Township Park.

"They'd like to put one out there because I guess the (wireless) coverage is terrible in that area," he said.

In order to place a cell tower at Seymour Lake Park, Davis said approval is required from three township bodies.

"We're trying to finalize a lease agreement," he said. "If the (parks/rec.) commission approves that, then it would go to the planning commission, then from there, the township board. I'd like to see something done by October when I could take it to the (parks/rec.) commission."

Because state and federal funds have been used for that park, approval from those levels of government would be necessary as well.

"There's some additional hoops that we have to jump through," Davis said. "It could be a little time-consuming, but the ball is rolling."

Davis is excited about this potential tower becoming another source of revenue for the parks/rec. department.

"The money has to go directly to the parks and rec.; it can't go anywhere else," he said. "It would generate money to either buy equipment that we currently (pay for) out of our budget or unfortunately, make (repairs) that are caused by vandalism."

Right now, Davis indicated they're discussing an initial five-year lease with a monthly rent of approximately $1,200.

They would also receive additional revenue from any other wireless carriers that attach equipment to the tower.

As for where the potential tower could be located in the park, Davis said that has yet to be determined.

Originally, they were looking at placing it in the park's northeast corner, which is the department's maintenance area, but he said that location's been rejected.