October 22, 2018

Deep River Town Meeting Approves $320,000 Cell Phone Tower Lease Buyout

DEEP RIVER— Residents at a town meeting Tuesday quickly approved a $320,000 buyout of ground rights for the cellular communications tower located on town property off Route 80.

Only a handful of residents turned out for the town meeting, unanimously approving a waiver of competitive bid requirements for the cell tower negotiations and the buyout offer from Tower Co. after less than a half-hour of discussion.

The tower was erected in 1998 by Nextel Communications on town land near the solid waste transfer station. The town has been receiving payments of $25,000 each year on a 25-year lease that ends in 2023. Under the $320,000 offer, Tower Co., a North Carolina-based firm affiliated with Nextel, would buyout ground rights for the tower site in a lump sum payment. Tower Co. would be required to remove the tower at no cost to the town if it was no longer being used for cellular communications.

First Selectman Richard Smith said another cellular communications company had submitted a buyout offer that was $1,000 higher than the Tower Co. offer after the original offer was announced in January. But Smith said he was not in favor of the town embarking on an “auction” for the ground rights.

Town attorney Jane Marsh, who was present for the meeting, said opening the process to other offers would “prolong the negotiating process,” and possibly result in a loss of the original offer from Tower Co. “It would not be in the best interest of the town to get a contract by that method,” she said.

Smith said the board of finance would have the final decision on how to use the $320,000 cash payment. Smith said some of the money could be placed in a capital and non-recurring projects fund to pay for various capital projects that would otherwise be funded through the annual town budget. The town is expected to receive the payment by July, the first month of the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

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