Bronson cell tower negotiations ongoing

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

A proposed deal with Verizon Wireless and the Town of Bronson appears to be on shaky ground.

Verizon representatives approached the town in October, requesting that the company be allowed to rent a portion of town-owned property at James H. Cobb Park where Verizon would construct a cell phone tower.

The company had offered to pay $1,000 a month with an additional 2 percent fee tacked on each year. The initial proposal was a 25-year contract, bringing in an estimated $384,000 during that time.

The company had also stated that it would rather rent property from a municipality, such as Bronson, or a non-profit, rather than a private land owner.

Council members made no decision to accept the deal at the Nov. 4 meeting, opting instead to do a bit of checking into the terms of the contract and on fees similar parties were being paid for such services.

But Monday, Town Clerk Kelli Brettel said Nuckols had sent her an email stating that the town was now being viewed as a "backup" option after town officials had made inquiries into the nature of the earlier-proposed agreement.

Council Member Berlon Weeks said Nuckols response makes it sound as if having an attorney look into the lease was a bad thing.

Town Attorney Steven Warm said his review of the situation was to point out some inconsistencies.

"Now," Warm began, "he's basically ..."

"Treating us like hicks!" Weeks interjected.

Brettel presented a letter Monday night drafted Dec. 13 by Mayor Franklin Schuler expressing an interest in making a deal.

"The Town of Bronson is extremely excited that Verizon has chosen to extend its coverage and network and the opportunity this presents for the Town and the citizens of Bronson and Levy County," the letter stated.

The letter, though expressing interest in working with Verizon, leaves a blank space where a set dollar amount for rental fees would go.

Council Member Bruce Greenlee made a motion to send the letter to "see where it goes."

Weeks agreed, saying filling in a specific dollar amount would give Verizon the opportunity to haggle with other potential property owners over fees for rental space.

Schuler agreed, as well, saying the dollar amount should be left blank until the town "gets some kind of response."

The motion was approved unanimously.