A possible land deal between Plain Township and Christian Voice of Central Ohio is prompting some residents to question their local government.

A possible land deal between Plain Township and Christian Voice of Central Ohio is prompting some residents to question their local government.

Nearly 50 township residents joined the three trustees for a public hearing Feb. 18 to discuss the possibility of a 400-foot radio tower to be placed on a 34-acre plot of township-owned land at 5570 Walnut St.

The radio tower would be operated and eventually owned by CVCO, which broadcasts WCVO's The River on 104.9 FM.

The current proposal is a lease-to-own agreement that would give the township a total of $940,000 if the deal comes to fruition. No loan term has been announced thus far.

CVCO president and CEO Dan Baughman and his attorneys, Aaron Underhill and Ben Hale, of the law firm Smith & Hale, were at the meeting.

The company, based on Johnstown Road in Gahanna, currently has a tower at 4400 Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road that has been deemed "infirm."

Trustee president Dave Ferguson said trustees had placed conditions on CVCO. Some of them include limiting only one tower on the 34 acres, the restriction of all residential use and the possibility to put police and fire equipment on the tower for local use.

Ferguson said the trustees would have the authority to terminate the agreement after residents file a formal complaint adjacent to the Walnut Street property.

Harlem Road resident Joan Wuebkee, who lives next to the proposed tower, said she circulated a petition of residents against the proposal.

"The thing that concerns me is that I don't think the communication was properly done," she said. "I am here to present the board with two letters -- one from myself and one from Jeff Doran -- and we both have objections."

She said the land initially was purchased to build a new fire station or a school but was not used for such purposes. Most recently, she said, she believed the land was going to be part of a Metro Park, which is in the works for the northern end of Plain Township.

Residents cited other reasons for opposing the radio tower, such as its close proximity to the airport, the construction disrupting well water and health risks of living too close to a broadcasting tower.

Tracey Thiele, who lives on Central Collage Road and who also is a member of the township's zoning board, said she is concerned with the legality of the agreement.

She cited the Ohio Revised Code's standards on telecommunications towers.

"The information that keeps going around is that we are being led to believe that this tower is going to be built for public-utilities use," she said. "When we have spoken with the different fire (fighters) and police, they have informed us that they have no intentions of using this tower at this time. So it is going to be a private tower for private use."

Hale said the tower under question is not the type of tower mentioned in the ORC, adding that the ORC refers to cell towers rather than radio towers.

He also said the public-hearing process is the right approach.

"If WCVO is on a piece of property that is not owned by the township, they do have to go through the board of zoning adjustment to get a variance (for height)," he said. "If you are buying a township piece of property, you have to go through the process that we are going through with the trustees. The only thing we are doing is following the code."

Trustee Bud Zappitelli said the trustees were not trying to "skirt" anything by holding the public hearing as opposed to going through the zoning board.

"The difference is that you would have five people that you would have no recourse against on the BZA," he said. "We are all up for re-election this fall. That is us pushing it off on someone else. That would be us taking the politically easy way out."

Resident Mike Roberts said he was not in favor of the tower but believes the decision is now in the trustees' hands.

"I think we have sufficiently stated our concerns," he said. "It is now up to you guys to make a decision. It is time to stop talking."