The City of Bowling Green, Ohio, has no zoning process by which to stop Verizon Wireless from building a 155-foot tower at the corner of I-75 and East Wooster Street. But it may have some power to persuade the carrier not to build.
The municipality, which owns the electric company, is threatening to withhold power from the tower, according to John Fawcett, municipal administration, in a last ditch effort to halt construction.
“We have been advised by counsel that we can legally withhold electricity from the tower,” Fawcett said. “We are invoking that right as a way of leveraging a response from Verizon. It is our only recourse.”
The Ohio Department of Transportation leased the land to Verizon Wireless. Because the cell site is in the state’s right of way, the cell tower is exempt from the city’s zoning code and so there was no formal approval by the city. The City first learned of the carrier’s intention to build on the site back in 2008, and formally opposed it because it is located in an area known as the “Gateway to Bowling Green.”
“We have opposed it whenever we had the opportunity. We have communicated to them but have not received any responses,” Fawcett said. “This is our gateway and we have made a lot of improvements to the look of the area over the last several years to widen the roads and bury the power lines. Cell towers are ugly. We have a conflict.”
Verizon Wireless said it had reached out to officials. In a prepared statement, the carrier said, “We’ve engaged the city and university officials in good faith discussions over the past six months in the hopes of finding a viable solution and plan to continue this dialogue.”
Either way, Verizon Wireless is scheduled to meet with the mayor and ODOT officials, along with State Senator Randy Gardner (R-2nd District) on April 12.