SNOW HILL – County officials approved a cellular antenna lease approval process this week.
On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a process for leasing antenna space on county water towers. While the requests to lease space have been handled on a case-by-case basis in the past, staff recommended a standardized procedure based on the one used in Ocean City.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Public Works Director Dallas Baker said.
Baker presented the commissioners with a proposed approval process this week after his department fielded multiple inquiries in recent months related to leasing space on water towers for antennas. He said that rather than continuing on a case-by-case basis, the county should have a process in place.
“There’s no standardized procedure for how we approach this,” he said.
Baker consulted with Ocean City officials and created a policy that mirrors the one in place in the resort, he said. Cellular providers will have to agree to the lease agreement and monthly payment before they can put any equipment on Worcester’s water towers.
When asked about county towers, Baker said there were six in all—two in Ocean Pines, one in Newark, one at the Landings, one at Riddle Farm and one at Mystic Harbour. He said the towers in Newark and Ocean Pines currently had antennas on them.
The proposed lease approval process outlines what cellular providers would be expected to pay for leases, which will be done in 20-year agreements. Baker said like Ocean City, the county would charge providers $4,000 per month per tower on which the provider places equipment. That $4,000 per month would be deposited into the reserve fund of the water and sewer service area where the tower is located. The additional $48,000 a year per antenna could help offset the costs associated with repainting the county’s water towers. It costs about $500,000 to repaint a tower, Baker said.
The commissioners voted 5-0, with Commissioners Diana Purnell and Bud Church absent, to approve the process.