As Senator, I rely on the input of my constituents to advance policies that will improve our communities. To that end, I recently sent out a survey relating to cell service in the Adirondack Park. That survey can also be taken here, at my Senate website. If we’re to ensure our region is up-to-date with the needs of our residents, action on the issue of cellular service is essential.
A lot has changed in 21 years.
Wars began and ended. Google went public in 2004. Facebook was founded that same year.
Scientists mapped the human genome. Rovers traversed Mars. Apple launched its first iPhone.
Part of the Adirondack Park’s vast infrastructure of outdoor recreation options include two drive-up mountains – Prospect Mountain in Lake George and Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington – where one can drive an automobile to the summits. In all likelihood there will soon be a third drive-up mountain – Blue Mountain in Indian Lake. » Continue Reading.
A coalition of New York’s environmental and historic preservation organizations is expressing its gratitude today after receiving a decision from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that preserves the rights of state and local governments to regulate the size, shape and visibility of telecommunications towers in scenic and historic areas, including the Adirondack Park.
In January, the groups sent a joint letter to the FCC, urging federal officials to recognize that scenic beauty and historic significance are the backbone of local tourism, both inside and outside of the Adirondack Park. In public comments on a proposed FCC rule, they asked the commissioners to reject the notion that expansions of 10 percent or more in the height or width of cell towers would have no impact on the environment or historic preservation. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency’s policy that keeps cell towers “substantially invisible” has been good for public safety and scenic vistas for 12 years now. A proposed federal rule change threatens that policy and the wild beauty of the landscape it protects.
People who care about scenic beauty and historic preservation are joining forces to persuade the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) not to impose new rules that would allow cell phone companies to increase the height and visibility of communications towers without seeking permission from state or local regulators.
The FCC’s proposed rule would grant automatic approval for applicants seeking to increase the height and/or width of any existing communications tower, regardless of local policies and ordinances. » Continue Reading.
The encroachment of cellphones, the Internet and Wi-Fi into the backcountry was the impetus of my last Adirondack Almanack article. Before long, this encroachment shall transform into the inevitability of an all-out invasion, barring any lethal worldwide epidemic, nuclear winter, asteroid collision or zombie apocalypse. Since it would be imprudent to rely on such unlikely occurrences happening in the near future, guidelines governing the use of these digital gadgets appear sorely needed.
Rules and regulations abound for electronic gadgets in the frontcountry, so why not in the backcountry? Driving while texting or talking on a cellphone is illegal on our roads, despite the flagrant disregard for this law surpassed only by that of the stated speed limits, so why not institute similar policies for the Adirondack trails? » Continue Reading.
Adirondack towns and villages have a unique opportunity to be included in a project that seeks to improve wireless cell and broadband availability in the Adirondack Park.
The goal of the Wireless Clearinghouse project is to create an inventory of existing structures in Adirondack Park towns that are suitable for housing a wireless antenna. The database will be a resource for private wireless companies, with the goal of encouraging them to expand wireless telecommunications across the region, a key to economic development. The inventory produced is expected to be a significant planning asset available through a secure website and featuring a GIS database with maps and images. Right now, municipal officials are being asked to respond to an email sent by the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) that contains instructions for listing their community’s structures in the online inventory. All communities who provide feedback by May 31 will be publicly acknowledged when the final results of the project are published and will be entered in a drawing to win a free customized online mapping application.
Fountains Spatial Inc., a GIS consulting firm based in Schenectady, has been contracted by SUNY Plattsburgh and ANCA with project methodology, data collection, and development of an interactive web-map application to access the data collected in the project.
The data being collected this month will identify existing tall structures within Adirondack Park municipalities, such as churches, water towers, and other tall structures. To start, Fountains Spatial combed tax parcel data for information on property class codes such as churches, public services and government structures that could be considered suitable sites for a telecommunications antenna.
The project is due to be completed this summer. In the process, one of the goals is to inform community leaders of the opportunities provided by these technologies.
“DEC, SUNY Plattsburgh, Fountains Spatial and ANCA hope that the Wireless Clearinghouse database will encourage wireless carriers to provide service in additional Park communities. People today want to stay connected 24/7 using their mobile device or computer, and better wireless service will support municipal services, and benefit year round and seasonal residents, and visitors may stay longer,” said Howard Lowe, project manager.
At the September Adirondack Park Agency (APA) meeting, the agency board authorized general permit application 2010G-1 designed to further streamline telecommunication project approvals. General Permit 2010G-1 fast tracks review of new or replacement cellular towers proposed for locations in proximity to previously approved agency sites.
This is the second general permit developed by agency staff to expedite telecommunication project approvals. Since 2005, cellular companies relied heavily on General Permit 2005G-3R to co-locate equipment on existing tall structures. The general permit process is less rigorous and results in cost savings for cellular companies. In 2010, the APA issued fourteen permits to date resulting in 6 new towers, 6 replacements, and 2 co-locations. Fourteen additional applications are under review. In 2009, the agency approved 31 applications. This included 14 new towers, 14 co-location projects, 1 replacement and 2 replacement/co-location permits.
Additionally this year, APA participated in the Technical Assistance Center’s organizational meeting in support of their Wireless Clearinghouse Project. Project goals include the identification of tall structures throughout the Park for potential co-location sites to foster more cellular company investment in Park communities.
Cellular coverage will improve as approved projects are undertaken. Construction has not started however on many permitted tower sites located in Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Warren Counties. A number of these permits were issued in 2009.
Chairman Curtis F. Stiles said, “The APA realizes comprehensive coverage along travel corridors and near population centers is only possible with planning and additional capital investment. We’ve worked diligently with the carriers to approve over 125 permits throughout the Park resulting in increased coverage in this topographically challenging region of New York State. We remain committed to working with carriers as they plan for this critical infrastructure.”
Executive Director Terry Martino stated, “The APA fully understands the importance of cellular and broadband technology to support economic development and public safety. The horizontal co-location general permit will provide carriers the opportunity to improve cellular coverage while reducing their capital expenditure costs. We appreciate their input on this application and their continued commitment to implement wireless technology in accordance with state law.”
The APA, working with stakeholder groups, developed a “Telecommunication and Tall Structure Policy” in 2002. The policy was established to expedite implementation of critical telecommunication infrastructure in conformity with the statutory requirements of the Adirondack Park Agency Act. The policy has resulted in improved cellular coverage for Adirondack communities especially along highway corridors and in population centers.
The policy includes guidance for telecommunication companies to ensure successful implementation of projects. Guidance includes: avoiding locating facilities on mountaintops and ridge lines; concealing any structure by careful siting, using a topographic or vegetative foreground or backdrop; minimizing structure height and bulk; using color to blend with surroundings; and using existing buildings to locate facilities whenever possible.
Photos: Above, a mass of communication towers atop Prospect Mountain overlooking Lake George (John Warren). According to APA spokesperson Keith McKeever, the tower farm on Prospect includes pre-existing towers (pre-1973, no APA approval) and two towers approved in the 1980s when the agency’s towers policy was weak (essentially, approve towers where pre- existing ones stood without much concern for the height). Under the 2003 towers policy, the APA implemented “substantial invisibility” and tower heights came down. Below, the Cell Tower recently sited near Exit 29 in North Hudson (APA Photo).
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The June meeting will be one day only and will consider the creation of a Moose River Plains Intensive Use Camping Area, renewing four previously approved general permits on wetlands, communications towers, hunting and fishing cabins, and development rights, amendments to the Town of Hague, Bolton, and Westport local zoning programs, and revisions to the definition of “boathouse,” and easing the permitting process for businesses, among other topics. Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website. The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report which will include a resolution recognizing the contributions of long serving past Agency Board Member, James T. Townsend.
At 9:30 a.m., The State Lands Committee will hear a second reading for the Jay Mountain Wilderness and the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area Unit Management Plans. These plans are actionable items; however, the Board will not act on the fire tower proposal included in the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area at this time.
APA staff will request authorization from the Board to proceed to public hearing on reclassification proposals for state land in Herkimer and Hamilton Counties including a proposal to create a 2,925 acre Moose River Plains Intensive Use Camping Area. The committee will also hear an informational presentation from DEC staff on the working draft for the Moose River Plains Unit Management Plan. Public review of the draft Unit Management Plan will be conducted jointly between DEC and APA as part of a coordinated SEQR review process on both the Unit Plan and the reclassification proposals.
At 11:15, the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider renewing four previously approved general permits which are set to expire on August 12, 2010. The general permits include:
2005G-2 Minor Projects Not In or Impacting Wetlands
2005G-3 Replacement of or Installation of Certain New Telecommunications Antennas on Existing Towers or Other Tall Structures
2005G-4 Hunting and Fishing Cabins Greater Than 500 Square Feet in a Resource Management Area
2005G-5 Subdivision to Convey Two or More Lots Without Principal Building Rights
The Committee will then hear a first reading for a new draft general permit which, if authorized, would expedite APA approval for a change in use in existing commercial, public/semi-public and industrial structures. This proposed general permit is the latest in ongoing efforts by the APA to improve administrative efficiency.
At 1:00, the Local Government Services Committee will consider approving proposed amendments to the Town of Hague and the Town of Bolton’s approved local land use programs. Agency staff will then provide the committee with an overview on local land use controls inside the Adirondack Park.
At 1:45, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will hear a first reading on the Draft Memorandum of Understanding for APA’s review process of DEC projects on State Easement Lands inside the Adirondack Park. The MOU defines working relationships, provides guidelines for outlining new land use and development subject to Agency review and establishes review protocols for future DEC projects proposed on lands with State-owned conservation easements.
Following this discussion, the Committee will determine approvability for a proposed map amendment in the Town of Westport, Essex County.
At 3:00, the Legal Affairs Committee will meet to discuss and act on regulatory revisions for the definition of “boathouses”. The proposed definition is available as a pdf.
At 4:00, the Full Agency will convene to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.
The next Agency meeting is July 8-9 2010 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.
August Agency Meeting: August 12-13 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is proposing a new general permit entitled “Installation of New or Replacement Telecommunications Towers at Existing Agency Approved Sites.” According to APA press materials, this will be a General Permit which “will allow for an expedited review of certain types of telecommunications projects at sites where the Agency has previously issued telecommunications permits and where the Agency has reviewed visual analyses prepared for the approved projects.” The general permit would cover the following types of proposed projects park wide:
1) the installation of one new telecommunications tower in the immediate proximity of an existing telecommunications structure approved by the Agency and where the existing access drive and utility infrastructure are used to the greatest extent practicable; and
2) the replacement of a pre-existing telecommunications tower or a telecommunications tower previously approved by the Agency to address structural deficiencies of the existing tower in order to accommodate co-location of an additional telecommunications provider on said structure; with potential for some de-minimus increase in height.
According to APA staff, the concept for this general permit came about after consultations with cellular companies, elected officials and agency staff. Projects eligible under this General Permit would not result in significant adverse changes in the overall visibility of the tower site as seen from public viewing points, according to the APA.
This action is a SEQRA, Type 1 action. A negative declaration and Full Environmental Assessment Form has been prepared by the Agency and is on file at its offices in Ray Brook, New York. The proposed General Permit, application and certificate forms are available for review on the Agency’s website at www.apa.state.ny.us/.
All persons and agencies are invited to comment on this proposed project in writing or by phone no later than June 28, 2010.
Please address written comments to:
Holly Kneeshaw, Acting Deputy Director Regulatory Programs
NYS Adirondack Park Agency P.O. Box 99 1133 NYS Route 86 Ray Brook, NY 12977
Photo: A Mass of communication towers atop Prospect Mountain overlooking Lake George. Photo by John Warren.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting this Thursday and Friday (May 13 and 14) at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook.
Among the items the Agency will be considering are a General Permit for the replacement and doubling of existing cell-towers and possible classification alternatives for fire towers in the Hurricane Primitive Area and the St. Regis Canoe Area. These could include reclassifying a small area around the base of the fire towers to a Historic Area classification, revising the State Land Master Plan. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack 64er round is set. Play-in victories by Frankenpines, Lawnchair Ladies, Peter Hornbeck and Backyard Sugarin’ have filled first-round pairings for the second annual Adirondack Bracket.
In general, it seems as though invasive species and related issues have established a beachhead this year. Spiny waterflea, rock snot, Realtors, and watermilfoils (some varieties of which, it must be said, are native to these parts) have joined the dance, as has Triclopyr (the chemical herbicide recently approved by the APA to kill Eurasian watermilfoil on Lake Luzerne), and DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries (whose failure to mount adequate protections at state boat launches is chiefly responsible for the spread of these invaders—with the exception of Realtors, who mostly plague the shorelines).
Click through for some featured match-ups from the first and second quads of this year’s first-round (check in tomorrow for featured matches in quads 3 and 4): In the first quad, light pollution—an excellent photo essay on the topic by photographer Mark Bowie is featured this month in Adirondack Life Magazine—is going up against the incredibly diverse galaxy of Adirondack mushrooms (our favorite, Ganoderma applanatum, a.k.a. shelf fungus, or—appropriately—bracket fungus, or artist’s conk, is its own natural artistic medium with numerous gifted practitioners throughout the Adirondacks and upstate New York.)
Cougar sightings are a recurring meme in Adirondack lore and blogging. These sinewy felines are going up against real maple syrup. Of the syrup it can be said that the sap runs hard throughout the month of March and is known to dribble furiously. Its chief vulnerability: the tendency to look too far ahead to potential pairings in the sweet sixteen round.
Frankenpines, having gotten past the century-deceased master watercolorist Winslow Homer by virtue of their height and period uniforms and three-point game, find themselves facing the Moodys—early and prolific Adirondack settlers whose members include Jacob Moody, founder of Saranac Lake. The legendary guide Martin Van Buren “Uncle Mart” Moody so impressed President Chester Alan Arthur (One of his two Presidential “sports”) with his guiding chops that the president established the eponymous Moody’s Post Office at Moody’s Mount Morris House in Tupper Lake (the present location of Big Tupper Ski Area, and the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort).
Axe-fodder is the leitmotif of the Bracket’s second quad. John Brown (who just last year “celebrated” the sesquicentennial of his hanging, only to return home to his North Elba farmstead to find that the state park has an appointment with the chopping block in the 2010 State Budget) will meet the magisterial eastern white pine, the object of logging desire since the first european settlers arrived on the continent. This section of the Bracket also features Moriah “Shock” Incarceration Correctional Facility and Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility, both slated for closure in this year’s state budget. They will face last year’s Bracket powerhouse Stewart’s Ice Cream Shops of Greenville, NY. Depending on the outcome—not so much of this contest, but of budget negotiations in Albany—Stewart’s might consider a new flavor: Moriah Shocolate, or Moriah Shock-full-o’-nuts, or something like that.
Our personal favorite in this corner of the Bracket is Yellow Yellow, who’s ability to crack the defenses of DEC bear-proof canisters proved that he is definitely smarter than your average bear. Yellow Yellow will meet Wells Olde Home Days.
On February 19th the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) issued a permit to Verizon Wireless and the Duane Volunteer Fire Company authorizing the construction of a cellular tower and the collocation of emergency communication equipment. The approval came to Verizon’s surprise, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise is reporting, as the company had been planning on withdrawing the permit application. The tower, if it is constructed by Verizon, would broaden cellular coverage along NYS Route 30 and improve emergency service communications in Franklin County. This is the third Verizon Wireless approval in 2010. The site is along the south side of County Route 26 in northern Duane, Franklin County on lands owned by the Duane Volunteer Fire Company. The approved tower is 80-feet tall and was expected to include two whip antennas, one 18-foot for Franklin County Emergency Services and another 16-foot for the Duane Volunteer Fire Company which will extend above the tower itself for a total height of 98 feet.
According to an APA press release “Agency staff determined the tower and antenna array would not be readily apparent from off site locations. The tower will be painted a dark grey or black color with a non-reflective or matte finish. This site is also located in close proximity to existing telephone and electric power.”
Last year the agency issued 31 telecommunication permits, including 14 new towers, 14 collocation projects, 1 replacement and 2 replacement/collocation permits. To-date the agency issued 195 telecommunication permits resulting in the construction of 118 structures.
The APA is currently reviewing another ten applications for the following locations:
1 in Town of Dresden (behind Hulett’s Landing fire station)
1 in Town of Fine (NYS Route 3 – Star Lake hamlet)
1 in Town of Minerva (NYS Route 28 & More Memorial Hwy)
1 in Town of Chesterfield (Virginia Drive)
1 in Town of Clifton (NYS Route 3, Cranberry Lake)
1 in Town of Chester (NYS Route 9, Word of Life)
1 in Town of Wilmington (NY Route 86)
1 in Town of Queensbury (West Mountain Road)
1 in Town of Westport (Boyle Road)
1 in Town of Fort Ann (collocation on existing simulated tree tower)
The following description of the implementation of the APA’s Towers Policy come from an APA press release:
The agency’s Towers Policy, revised in February of 2002, discourages mountaintop towers and promotes the collocation of facilities on existing structures. The policy is intended to protect the Adirondack Park’s aesthetic and open space resources by describing how to site telecommunication towers so they are not readily apparent. The natural scenic character of the Adirondack Park is the foundation of the quality of life and economy of the region, long recognized as a uniquely special and valuable State and National treasure.”
The policy also recognizes the importance for telecommunications and other technologies to support the needs of local residents, the visiting public and the park’s economic sector. The policy includes guidance for telecommunication companies to ensure successful implementation of projects.
Guidance includes: avoiding locating facilities on mountaintops and ridge lines; concealing any structure by careful siting, using a topographic or vegetative foreground or backdrop; minimizing structure height and bulk; using color to blend with surroundings; and using existing buildings to locate facilities whenever possible.
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