New Cell Phone Tower Slated for Big Hill Park

Sturgeon Bay’s Finance/Purchasing and Building Committee is recommending that the city lease out land at Big Hill Park – the highest point on the east side – for the construction of a 170-foot cellular tower. It would be about the same height as the antenna on top of the water tower and would not need to be illuminated because its overall height would be lower than 200 feet. 

The committee’s Feb. 28 recommendation supports a 50-year lease agreement with U.S. Cellular, which has been looking for a new site to locate a tower and would occupy a 3,600-square-foot area that is not restricted from commercial use at Big Hill Park.

The base rent of $16,200 per year would increase by 12% every five years, for a total lease value in today’s dollars of $1,421,448. In addition, in the event that U.S. Cellular would sublease space on the tower, the recommended lease agreement calls for the city to retain 25% of the sublease revenue.

In a separate agreement, U.S. Cellular would allow the co-location of necessary public-safety and operations equipment without a fee or charge.

Committee chair Helen Bacon said the lease recommendation was forwarded to the Common Council for approval during its March 21 meeting.

State laws on locating communication towers place limits on how municipalities may regulate the towers, such as not allowing them to be designated as a prohibited use in any zoning district. Those laws would make it difficult for the city to reject a specific site or direct U.S. Cellular to a certain location.

U.S. Cellular indicated in a statement provided to the Peninsula Pulse that it has been “exploring the site at Big Hill Park to relocate a nearby cell site that no longer meets our long-term needs to provide service to the area. This new location gives us the opportunity to enhance our service and make sure the Door County community stays connected to the people and places that matter most to them.” 

If the site were not approved, city administrator Josh VanLieshout said U.S. Cellular could seek to build the tower on nearby land – with the project having the same visual aesthetic in the area – without the city receiving any lease or sublease revenue, as well as having no public-safety communication co-location benefits.

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