BV council approves contract for tower
By Scott Loftis
The view from the top of Saunders Heights may be changing slightly in the near future, but the City of Berryville will reap the financial rewards.
On Tuesday night, Sept. 3, the Berryville City Council approved a leasing master agreement between the city and Fayetteville-based Smith Communications LLC to erect a wireless communications tower atop Saunders Heights.
The contract, whose approval is subject to review by Berryville city attorney Clint Scheel, provides for a 10-year lease. Smith agrees to pay the city $1,000 a month for the first year of the lease, with payments automatically increasing by 3 percent each year.
Smith will have the right to sublease space on the tower to wireless communication carriers and will pay the city an additional $300 a month for each sublease.
Kayla Kramer, site development manager for Smith Communications, attended Tuesday’s meeting. She told council members that the contract is modeled after a similar agreement Smith has in place with the Fayetteville School District.
“I looked at several different contracts they have with different entities and the one they have with the school district is the one I liked the best,” Mayor Tim McKinney said.
The agreement also gives Smith the authority to negotiate on the city’s behalf on future site leases with other companies, although the city will retain the authority to accept or reject any future agreements.
“On any site that anybody proposes to put up a tower in the future … we’d tell them ‘we work with Smith,’ ” McKinney said. “We would not deal with them. (Smith) would handle all of the paperwork and everything, and basically it would get us out of the negotiating part of it.”
Initially Smith proposed placing the tower in an area on Saunders Heights where it would not impede the view, but because of logistical issues that option wasn’t feasible.
Instead, the company will erect a 200-foot monopole tower that will create a slight obstruction in the view toward the southwest.
“Just as you get to top and start the circle, it’ll be right there on the left,” McKinney said. “… It’s going to be a little bit of a viewing area, but it’ll just be one pole.”
“I know that you guys might have an issue with the view, and that’s why we did change the tower type to this instead of the crisscross,” Kramer said.
McKinney said he believes the contract’s financial terms are good.
“In looking at other contracts and everything, I think the money on it is very fair,” he said.
Kramer said the tower will be designed to accommodate at least four subleases and potentially more.
“We design the tower based on how the ground is set up, to accommodate up to four carriers and we do the foundation and the tower design based on that,” she said.
In addition, the city can place its own communications equipment halfway up the 200-foot tower.
Three companies currently have communications towers atop Saunders Heights — Cox Communications, Carroll Electric Co-Op Corp. and HBE Internet.
McKinney said the city eventually wants to have just one tower atop Saunders Heights.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council unanimously approved a request from the Berryville School District to prohibit parking on a portion of Ferguson Street from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on days when school is in session.
District officials said vehicles parked on the portion of the street can create a traffic hazard for trucks making deliveries to the school cafeteria.
The city council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at City Hall.