NEW ULM - Verizon Wireless has pulled out of its plans to build a 4G cellular phone tower on Martin Luther College campus due to opposition from neighboring homeowners. Instead, Verizon is planning two new antennas.
Verizon confirmed this week it is planning to put a new cellular antenna on the new Nehls Park water tower and another on the New Um Municipal Airport water tower, pending approval by the FAA. Verizon did not confirm if it would remove its golf course tower, but several persons with direct knowledge on the project confirmed that was part of the plan. Details are pending as Verizon reviews its new plan.
Additionally, MLC sent Verizon a new possible site last week. The new proposal would place the tower, potentially disguised as a flag pole, between its dormitories on the opposite side of campus. The location was not part of MLC's initial proposal because college officials thought the antenna needed to be placed on the dormitory roofs. However, after determining a free-standing pole could be installed between the buildings, MLC sent Verizon the new proposal. Verizon had no comment on the most recent MLC plan because it has not had time to review it.
The first MLC site was brought up as a replacement for Verizon's cellular antenna on the failing Hermann Heights water tower, which is scheduled to be removed and replaced with a new water tower at Nehls Park this year.
During a public hearing on the proposal, a spokesperson for Verizon said it was not interested in moving to the Nehls Park water tower because the location would only overlap with coverage already provided by its antenna at the nearby golf course.
Verizon had proposed building either a single pole or a pole disguised as a tree on the MLC campus to fill a coverage "hole" in the area. Because Verizon's tower needed certain "line-of-sight" requirements and because MLC turned down other locations due to future building plans, Verizon proposed a tower on the western side of campus. But, the proposal met with criticism from some homeowners bordering the MLC campus. Tom Berg, an opponent of the plan, said the opposition was concerned the tower would "be unsightly in our neighborhood" and lower property values.
Verizon subsequently pulled its plans, and MLC said it would no longer continue with that particular site in order to be "good neighbors."
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)