"Antenna sends tower
builder back to city -
Height requires additional look."
By ASHLEY JOST
Monday, November 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm
St. Charles Tower Inc. is going back to the
drawing board to get approval for a 15-foot
addition to the 140-foot cell tower the Board of Adjustment approved last week. The Board of Adjustment ruled the pole was improperly described to the city as a 140-foot pole and that it was unclear that the height did not include the attachments necessary for the emergency communications addition.
During the Board of Adjustment meeting last week, representatives from St. Charles Tower asked for a change that would limit their request to the initial 140-foot monopole in hopes of coming back as early as next month to request the additional 911 antenna.
Chris Puricelli, the St. Charles Tower project director, said it is "relatively common" to have issues with zoning and for approval to not go as planned the first time around. He said this is the company's fourth or fifth tower in the Columbia area, and it has experience dealing with the city. The clarity issue in describing the current project was a mistake, he said.
In the meantime, the company intends to start leasing the pole to cellular phone carriers for extra coverage in that part of the city.
"There was definitely a need for more communication availability for Cosmo Park," Puricelli said. "People are there for tournaments and events over the weekend, and anyone who has been there knows their phone doesn't really work."
Puricelli said the company leases the 911 antenna at no cost to the public, city or county, and in exchange the pole can be leased for commercial use, which is how his company makes a profit. "It's the best example of integration of private and public sectors working together," he said. Dave Griggs, county fire district board chairman, said he thinks everyone wins with the deal. "The fire district covers all of Boone County, and parts of the county are more remote than others," Griggs said. "There are lots of hills and valleys. We have forever had challenges with communications at different times with radio reception. This would be a taller tower with new, modern equipment."
Friday, December 21, 2012
St. Charles Tower plans to build cell tower to look like an elm tree
By Andrew Denney
A cellular tower disguised to look like an elm tree is planned for property near the University of Missouri's football stadium that might later be the site of a small apartment complex.
The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission gave unanimous approval last night to a rezoning request, a development plan and a final plat that will allow for the construction of as many as 24 apartments contained within two buildings and a cell tower disguised as a tree on Providence Road southwest of the University of Missouri campus.
Phebe LaMar, an attorney representing Greg and Misti Post, the applicants for the rezoning request, said the tower will help to improve cellular phone service near Memorial Stadium, which is particularly poor during MU football game days.
"This is a very real need right now," LaMar said.
Pat Zenner, the city's development manager, said the tower would be the first of its kind in Columbia.
Greg Yocom, an engineer with the St. Louis-based St. Charles Tower, said the trunk of the 100-foot "stealth" cell tower will have a steel core and will be wrapped with a synthetic material. It would be able to support cell signals for five carriers.
The rezoning request pertains to a 2.5-acre tract of land on the west side of Providence between it and an outer road also known as Old Route K and changes the applicant's statement of intent for the land. The land had been rezoned from an agricultural to a planned office district in 2005, but no new construction occurred at the site after the rezoning. There is little development on the property now other than an existing duplex.
Zenner said the applicants have not submitted plans to construct buildings on the site. To do so, they would have to submit a site plan subject to a review by city planners and P&Z.
Commissioners Ray Puri and Stephen Reichlin were absent from last night's meeting.
This article was published on page A1 of the Friday, December 21, 2012 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune. CLICK HERE to view the article from the Columbia Daily Tribune web page.
Board approves Campus Lutheran Church steeple with hidden communications tower
By Fareeha Amir
July 10, 2012 | 9:25 p.m. CDT
The Columbia Board of Adjustment on Tuesday evening unanimously approved a request for a conditional use permit for the construction of a 41-foot steeple and cross on top of Campus Lutheran Church.
The steeple will contain a concealed communications tower and antenna, which will be used to provide coverage to cellular devices. The addition to the church, located at 304 S. College Ave., will have a 6-foot-tall cross on top of a 35-foot steeple.
The church's attorney, Dale Linneman, and St. Charles Tower Inc. applied for the permit.
What else happened-
Linneman said the church does not have a steeple and that adding one would increase its cosmetic appeal. He said the communications tower would be useful for now and the future.
Board member Rex Campbell expressed concern about the tower's height and whether it would damage any neighboring residential areas if it were to fall. He was assured by Bob Bardone, spokesman for St. Charles Tower Inc., that the neighboring areas are at a great enough distance to keep them safe if the tower were to fall.
Pat Zenner, development service manager for the city, said this tower is the first cellular communication tower in Columbia that will be hidden inside a structure. There are a number of hidden cellular communications towers in Columbia, but none are in an existing structure such as this one, Zenner said.
What's next: St. Charles Tower Inc. will have to submit a building plan to the city's Community Development Department and will then have to wait for its approval to start construction, Zenner said.
St. Charles Tower hits new heights with LightSquared
by Rebecca Boyle
Date: Thursday, October 21, 2010, 2:00pm CDT
Wireless services firm St. Charles Tower is the first in the country to sign a deal with LightSquared, a next generation wireless provider that aims to compete with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
The initial contract includes tower leases worth about $2 million that will boost St. Charles Tower’s revenue nearly 60 percent. The company’s owners anticipate the contract value will mushroom to $20 million in three years — a nearly tenfold increase in revenue.
Earlier this month, LightSquared said it secured $850 million in debt financing but didn’t disclose the source. The venture is a key project for billionaire Philip Falcone, who manages the hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners. Harbinger’s two largest funds have sunk about 40 percent, or $3 billion, of their assets into LightSquared, people familiar with the funds told Reuters, but the project may still need to raise another $5 billion, according to industry experts. Reston, Va.-based LightSquared will offer its 4G — often referred to as “next generation” — open wireless broadband network in St. Louis sometime next year. St. Charles Tower’s initial contract is for services in Las Vegas and Phoenix, where the firm already owns several cellular towers. St. Charles Tower co-owners Chris Puricelli and Robert Bell said the deal with LightSquared will provide wireless Internet access for laptops and smart phones at speeds equivalent to DSL. Nokia Siemens will build the network, which is scheduled to roll out early next year. St. Charles Tower will host the triangular antennae on existing structures. LightSquared aims to cover 92 percent of Americans by 2015. "You’ll have Internet in homes, in cars, and when you go to a hotel, you’re not going to have to pay $14.99 to use the Internet,” Puricelli said. It’s also a major boost for St. Charles Tower, which has been building cell towers throughout the Midwest and West for 10 years. Puricelli and Bell built their first couple of towers with their own funds before getting $2 million in capital from Bremen Bank. The tower business is “really a hybrid of real estate and equipment,” Puricelli said, making it tricky to explain when seeking financing. Puricelli, who previously worked for Bechtel and AT&T Wireless, estimates the company’s current value at $25 million to $28 million. He said St. Charles Tower’s annual revenue is about $3.5 million; about $2 million is from tower construction and sales and about $1.5 million comes from the firm’s services and site acquisition arm, STC Services. The firm builds between 10 and 20 new towers each year. At any given time, St. Charles Tower owns and maintains between 40 and 60 “towers,” which include steel rods, church steeples and even fake trees. The firm already works with next generation wireless provider Clearwire, which entered the St. Louis market this spring. Clearwire, which is majority-owned by Sprint Nextel Corp., announced Oct. 18 that it plans to expand its 4G WiMAX mobile service to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco by the end of this year. As of now, it’s the fastest-available wireless Internet in the country, but it may not retain that title for long — Verizon’s forthcoming LTE (long-term evolution) network could provide greater speed, and LightSquared’s own LTE is backed by a satellite, a world first.Tom Surface, corporate communications director for LightSquared, said the firm has already signed up a few partners.
In a research report dated Oct. 20, Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin indicated that LightSquared may be working toward a deal with Dish Network, which could help it raise capital and attract customers.
From real estate to towers the new contract with LightSquared is a fitting evolution for St. Charles Tower, which grew out of expertise in billboards and rural cell towers.
Puricelli joined forces in 2000 with Robert Bell, who had experience acquiring real estate and erecting billboards. They incorporated St. Charles Tower in 2000.
Puricelli said he approached LightSquared with several possible tower locations, including Las Vegas and Phoenix, two of LightSquared’s four initial launch cities.
The first 4G antennae for LightSquared will be co-located with existing St. Charles Tower antennae broadcasting in different parts of the light spectrum. As LightSquared enters more cities, St. Charles Tower will erect new structures.
LightSquared’s project is unique because of its satellite component. The company’s spectrum falls in the satellite band, so the FCC required the firm to include an integrated satellite service. Customers will be able to choose satellite-based services or land-based services, with no price difference.
Boeing announced Oct. 19 that it was shipping LightSquared’s first communications satellite to Kazakhstan. The SkyTerra 1 has a 72-foot-diameter reflector, which will allow mobile performance on par with land-based transmitters. It will work with four gateway ground stations to create nationwide coverage in the United States.
“It’s like having a cell tower in the sky — that’s how powerful these satellites are” Surface said.
Read more: St. Charles Tower hits new heights with LightSquared | St. Louis Business Journal
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cell phone tower company sues St. Charles County
February 23, 2011 5:50 pm
A company that wants to build a tree-shaped cell phone
tower near Defiance has sued St. Charles County
over rejection of its plans.
St. Charles Tower Inc. had planned to build a 130-foot tower
disguised as a pine tree at 97 Walnut Creek Trail. But a vote
on a permit to build the tower failed at the St. Charles County
Council's Jan. 10 meeting.
The lawsuit, filed today in federal court, alleges that the county did not provide substantial written evidence supporting the refusal to grant the company's permit application. It also challenges an interpretation of the county's charter regarding the number of votes required for passage.
Five council members were present at the Jan. 10 meeting. Three voted in favor of granting the permit. The charter says a majority of the council has to approve any bill or resolution. The council has seven members.
The county's interpretation is that the charter requires four affirmative votes. The lawsuit says that interpretation violates the charter.
St. Charles Tower says it wants to build to help AT&T cover a substantial gap in wireless service in the area. The lawsuit says the pine-tree design would blend in with the surrounding area.
Neighbors who opposed the permit have said the tower would not fit with the look of the rural area.