The Lacey Municipal Utilities Authority (LMUA) was reluctant to approach the Planning Board for approval of facilities that have existed for 15 years.
At the request of the township, the LMUA submitted a final site plan application and had it approved by the Planning Board on Monday night.
“We have been directed to be here today by the township and we are here seeking final site plan approval for what has existed for about 15 years,” LMUA attorney Jerry Dasti said.
Up until two years ago the LMUA leased storage and maintenance facilities on township property and had a cell tower built. When the township was struggling financially in 2010, a deal was solidified to have the LMUA purchase the property for $500,000, Deputy Mayor and Planning Board member Gary Quinn said.
“The LMUA was already occupying the facility. It made all the sense in the world,” Quinn said, adding that the sale brought in additional and much-needed revenue for the township.
The lot, located on Municipal Lane behind the Department of Public Works, contains an equipment building, storage building, communications tower and parking lot, board Engineer Bruce Jacobs said. A portion of the facilities is utilized by the Lacey Township School District.
No improvements were proposed for the property but the LMUA is required to legalize the site plan now that they have ownership, Jacobs said.
Communication between the township and LMUA previously indicated that site plan approval would not be required for the existing facilities, Dasti said. The process has cost the LMUA approximately $15,000.
“We have letters from the township saying no site plan is needed, go ahead and build the tower. We did 15 years ago,” he said.
The cell tower was originally installed on township property, board member and Director of Community Development John Curtin said. The cell tower company is subletting property from the LMUA and has approached the zoning office to make modifications.
“We hate to do this but we’re just trying to make maps available for people coming into town so that we can show people this is what exists,” Quinn said. “So when we’re all dead and gone, there’s a history of what’s going on around here. It’s going to be very helpful to us.”
LMUA Engineer Alan Dittenhofer implied that when the township owned the property, it did not go through the site plan process.
“The township doesn’t have site plans or subdivision approvals because we’re the entity that oversees these things,” Quinn said.
When the township owned the property, they presented a site plan to the MUA as was required, Curtin said.
When cell power companies propose modifications such as replacing antennas, they need to go before the board to do so, Curtin said.
The LMUA could sell the property to another entity at any time, Quinn said. Between liability issues and because the site surrounds township property, it was necessary for the LMUA to come in for approval.
At this point, now that the property is in the LMUA’s hands, the township must have it on record, Quinn said.
“We’re here to be good citizens,” Dasti said, allowing the board to proceed with the approval.
The site plan was approved unanimously. A resolution will be memorialized in March.