February 25

Chelsea set to vote Wednesday on cell tower lease sale

The selectmen are scheduled to decide at their meeting Wednesday night whether to sell the rights to the town’s cell tower lease.

By Paul Koenig pkoenig@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The Chelsea Board of Selectmen is expected to decide at its meeting Wednesday night whether to sell the rights to the town’s cellphone tower lease on Eastern Avenue.

The board is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Chelsea Elementary School.

Two out-of-state companies have expressed interest in buying an easement for the leasing rights to a cell tower used by U.S. Cellular on town property, according to Town Manager Scott Tilton.

The selectmen heard mostly opposition to selling the rights from the several residents who attended the public hearing held by the board Feb. 12, according to Tilton.

Tilton, who didn’t respond recently to multiple requests for comment about the upcoming meeting, previously said he was undecided about what to recommend. He said it would make sense to sell the rights only if the town had an immediate need for the money.

About 15 years remain on a 25-year-lease with U.S. Cellular for the cell tower, according to Tilton. The town earns $758 a month for leasing the tower, but it could sell the leasing rights to another company for a one-time sum of more than $100,000, Tilton said. The selectmen rejected a previous offer to sell the leasing rights last year, he said, but the offer was about $30,000 lower.

If the town sold the lease to a private company, the company would collect all income from leasing the property for 40 years. The lease with U.S. Cellular expires in 2028, but the company can renew the lease in five-year increments, Tilton said.

The town could earn more than $360,000 over the next 40 years if U.S. Cellular renews its lease for the cell tower.

Tilton said New York-based Unison offered $115,000 for the rights to the lease. Los Angeles-based Wireless Capital Partners hasn’t made an offer, but has said it can beat Unison’s terms, Tilton said.

The board also is scheduled to:

• Meet with the town attorney in executive session to discuss legal matters.

• Hear about a request from the Planning Board to update the town’s comprehensive plan.

• Review and act upon a Community Development Block Grant loan request to help buy a mobile home.

• Accept a Volunteer Fire Assistance grant.

Paul Koenig — 207-621-5663 pkoenig@centralmaine.com Twitter: @paul_koenig
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