New Albany village council members are not sure T-Mobile picked the best location to install nine six-foot antennas, even though the company received permission from the planning commission.

New Albany village council members are not sure T-Mobile picked the best location to install nine six-foot antennas, even though the company received permission from the planning commission.

Council members were asked to approve a resolution Tuesday, May 18, to grant a property easement to allow T-Mobile to place its cellular antennas atop a 169-foot American Electric Power tower near the intersection of Harlem and Johnstown roads.

Council voted 5-2, with Glyde Marsh and Steve Pleasnick voting no, to table the issue until the first council meeting in July so members could have more information and explore other options.

Mitch Banchefsky, village law director, said the resolution would grant an easement to expand the purpose of the tower to include cellular antennas.

Currently, T-Mobile has its antenna array on a tower owned by Christian Voice of Central Ohio on Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road. That tower will be torn down soon.

Banchefsky also said T-Mobile offered a $2,500 donation to the village to defray processing costs for its proposals. Council members did not take a vote to accept the donation.

Timothy Sloan of FMHC, a company that helps wireless providers acquire land and manage construction, told council members that the antennas are imperative to providing the level of service to which local customers are accustomed.

"We looked at a total of nine different AEP transmission towers," he said. "At the end of the day, in order to meet the coverage needs, there were a total of three towers that would serve their (T-Mobile's) purposes."

Sloan said the two other towers - located on each side of the one in dispute - were reserved by other wireless carriers. He said AEP does not allow multiple carriers to install their antennas on the same tower.

"That allowed for one tower that meets our needs," Sloan said.

Councilman Chris Wolfe asked administrators to look into the possibility of the village building its own towers to rent space to providers like T-Mobile.

"I don't know if it's worth putting that off a little bit to find a strategy that makes sense," he said. "I think we spend a lot of time and money planning things out here, and that's why people like to live here.

"If we owned those poles, there could be some revenue generated from that from a leasing perspective."

Council member Colleen Briscoe, who serves as the council representative to the planning commission, asked T-Mobile representatives if they would build their own tower if the AEP one were not available. She also asked how tall that tower would be.

Sloan said it would have to be in close proximity to the AEP tower.

"It would be in this general area," he said. "This is the only open space. If you go farther north, it's all residential."

In addition to the location of the tower, Mayor Nancy Ferguson said she would like to see what the antennas would look like as well as the size of the ground unit that would accompany the antennas..

"I think ... we have some opportunity to make some difference here," she said. "I would like to get more information about this."

Council member Chip Fellows agreed.

"My concern is aesthetics in the area," he said. "Those towers run right through the heart of residential New Albany. ... I want a better understanding of what our options are."