In August members of the Marshall County Board of Zoning Appeals members heard the request for reconsideration of Lawrence McGwin to install a wireless telecommunication facility, a 345-foot guyed tower on Ule Trail in Polk Township, zoned A-1 for Parallel Infrastructure.

Indianapolis attorney Matt Price appeared at the August 9th meeting and wanted to clarify information from the June 14th meeting and present new information for reconsideration.

BZA President, Jeff Gustafson said he excused himself from the June meeting because he had worked for the property owners across the street and the petition making the request.  Since this meeting is only to determine if the BZA would grant an appeal he asked to stay on the board for the decision-making process and the attorney for Parallel Infrastructure agreed. 

The vote at the June 14th meeting was a 3-1 vote to deny the 345-foot tower. 

During the August meeting, the board was only to consider whether sufficient grounds for reconsideration were present and not to take any new action on the petition.  They were to determine if substantial new information or if clarifying facts that were not known or available at the initial hearing were directly related to the decision criteria.  There is to be no modification of the application.

One of the issues presented for the request is the “fall-zone” requirement. There is a difference between the Marshall County Zoning Ordinance and Indiana Code.  Marshall County requires the tower to be setback 60% of the height of the tower.  Indiana Code amended the requirement in 2015 and the county hasn’t updated theirs.  The second issue is the Economic Burden Statute under Indiana Code because the local board indicated they could co-locate on an existing structure. 

The recommendation from the County Planning Staff and the Technical Review Committee (TRC) is to grant the request for reconsideration.  Further, clarified facts were presented and can have an impact on the decision-making process.   

The attorney said, “We came here believing that, and we still believe that we met each and every one of the development standards.  At the hearing, there was a lot of debate if we met the setback standards or not, both in terms of the fall zone and in terms of the anchors on the guy wires.  We believe we have addressed that fully with Ty (Adley County Plan Director) and that we do in fact meet each one of the development standards.”  He said the only decision should be if they need the special use variance and not the other issues brought up at the June meeting. 

The County BZA staff is to make a determination that co-location on a current structure is possible and wouldn’t have an economic burden on the petitioner. Parallel Infrastructure’s attorney said the Plan Commission staff hasn’t made that determination.        

As the discussion went forward it was noted that AT&T currently rents space on the SBA tower located on U.S. 6 and that another company, Parallel Infrastructure wants to build the new tower and have AT&T move onto their new tower as a rental client.   

An attorney for SBA Structures from Indianapolis spoke during the public hearing and said they are not providing new information and clarifying information.  The attorney said SBA offered to renegotiate the terms of AT&T’s current lease and is willing to match their new rent and raise the height of the current tower, if necessary, without a rate increase.

The County BZA tabled any decision on the request for reconsideration until they have time to meet with their attorney Derek Jones to have him review to information presented.