APA OKs Lake Clear cell tower

The state Adirondack Park Agency has signed off on a new cellphone tower that’s designed to improve coverage for Verizon Wireless customers in the Lake Clear and Saranac Inn areas.

The 89-foot monopole will be disguised at its top to look like a pine tree. It will be located on a hillside off of Forest Home Road, also known as Franklin County Route 18, in the town of Harrietstown. Verizon Wireless will lease a 100 by 100-foot site there from the property’s owner, Roy Warner.

The company plans to install 12 panel antennas on the tower, which will be enclosed in a 33-by-50-foot, fenced-in equipment compound. The APA permit requires a 200-foot “no cutting” zone to protect trees around the tower.

Documents the company filed with the Harrietstown Building Department describe the site as “an important step in Verizon Wireless’ long-term plan to provide safe (including E-911 capability), reliable and uninterrupted wireless telecommunications to the main travel routes and population centers in the Adirondack Park.”

The company says there is “little-to-no existing coverage in the western portions of the town of Harrietstown and the entire town of Santa Clara.”

The new tower will cover the hamlet of Lake Clear, 10 miles west along state Route 30 past the hamlet of Saranac Inn, and along the west side of Upper Saranac Lake to the Fish Creek area. Verizon Wireless also says the site will cover local roads including Fish Hatchery Road, Markham Point Road, Forest Home Road, Kimpton Road, Black Bay Road, Golf Course Road, Church Pond Road “and the homes, businesses and rural communities that surround (Route 30) in the Lake Clear/Saranac Inn area.”

Verizon Wireless spokesman Andrew Testa wrote in an email that the new tower will provide 4G LTE, or fourth-generation long-term evolution services, which is the fastest service available in the Adirondacks for data as well as texting and calling. He said the new tower would be online sometime in 2017.

While the tower will serve Verizon Wireless customers, its APA permit says the company must make space available to other cell service carriers “to the extent that space is available at the then-current market rate customarily charged for such space leases.”

Verizon Wireless initially proposed a 94-foot-tall tower. The APA required a visual analysis of the tower as part of its review, which led to a reduction in the height of the tower by 5 feet and the addition of a simulated tree design with “concealment branching” at the top.

“As a result … the proposed simulated tree tower is not considered an adverse visual impact because its height above the canopy line will be within the realm of naturally occurring conditions in the area and the concealment branching will effectively create the impression of a white pine tree,” reads the company’s APA permit.

The APA issued its permit on Tuesday, according to agency spokesman Keith McKeever.

The Harrietstown Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board approved the project earlier this year.

The company has started some site work on the property, according to Harrietstown Code Enforcement Officer Ed Randig.