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Can you hear me now?

RAY BROOK The Adirondack Park Agency approved a general permit last Friday that will eventually lead to better cell phone service on Interstate 87. The permit, submitted by T-Mobile and Omnipoint Communications, aims to co-locate six antennas on a tower in the town of Ausable. The existing tower measures 178 feet. The approval comes just 10 days after the permit from T-Mobile was received. According to Keith McKeever, a spokesman for the APA, the approval process was expedited because the permit sought to build upon a previously existing structure. Furthermore, the permit application did not need APA Board approval McKeever noted that the guidelines for the general permit made this possible. What were trying to do is utilize existing structures, said McKeever. When someone files a general permit and follows those guidelines, were able to review that project in a 15 business-day timespan. If they stick to the criteria on the permit, then we can approve the project without going to the board. McKeever said that T-Mobiles application followed the general permits guidelines. We were able to find that compliant with our cell tower policy, he said. And it complied with the general permit, so we were able to approve that permit quickly. McKeever noted that several years ago, APA officials recognized the need for increased cell phone service in the Adirondack Park, specifically along the Northway. Similarly, Sen. Betty Little wanted better cellular coverage, so that drivers along I-87 felt more comfortable during inclement weather. This goes back a couple years ago, said McKeever. What we were trying to do is to allow for increased cell opportunity, we did so by using existing projects, its working really well. One of our main goals is to maintain the pristine appeal of the Adirondacks. On July 15, the APA received general permit applications from AT&T Mobile, seeking approval for a similar project in the town of Fine, in St. Lawrence County. That permit seeks to co-locate up to six antennas on an existing tower measuring 145 feet. Independent Towers LLC/RCC Atlantic Inc. has also filed permit applications for projects in the town of Lewis. That review is ongoing, and McKeever said that the APA Board would review the permit at its Aug. 7 session. According to McKeever, the Independent/RCC Atlantic proposal does not comply with the fields outlined in the general permit. Those organizations are seeking permission to build a new structure measuring 100 feet, to be built on state Route 9 in Lewis. The structure would allow for up to three antennas to be co-located on the tower.

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