Elkton approves Belle Hill water tower land purchase
Will allow thirdparty leases for income
— The town board of commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday night to purchase the land that the Belle Hill water tower sits on, paving the way for the town to earn future income off the property.
The town will purchase the half acre from the Maryland Transportation Authority for $49,000, which will come out of the town’s water fund.
Elkton had previously leased the land from the MTA, but the terms of that lease didn’t allow Elkton to lease the site to a third party. Now that the town owns the land, it will be able to lease it to interested companies and earn extra money, said Lewis George, town administrator.
George first contacted the MTA about selling the property to the town two years ago after Verizon inquired about leasing space on the tower in order to erect a cellular tower at the top of the tower to improve cell signals.
This is not the first such lease for the town, as Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless, has leased space on the Blue Ball water tower since 1996. The Belle Hill water tower currently has no antennas or wireless equipment though, due to its lease limitations.
More than 10 years ago, AT&T also discussed leasing space on the tower, but that inquiry didn’t go far because “principally” the town did not have the authority to lease the tower site due to the terms of the lease with the MTA.
The sale was recently approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works and the governor, comptroller and treasurer have all signed the deed, George said. The next step in the process is the settlement with the MTA. After the settlement, the agreement with Verizon can be initiated, George added.
“The $49,000 that we’re paying for that land, we will pay back in two and a half to three years,” Mayor Rob Alt said.
Commissioner Mary Jo Jablonski said the purchase is beneficial for the town because soon they will have the potential to bring in multiple revenue streams from the tower, which sits at an advantageous position near the Delaware border.
“The price of the property at $49,000 will pay for itself,” Jablonski said. “After that, it’s just more income for the town.”
The Elkton town board approved the purchase of the land the Belle Hill Water Tower sits on Wednesday night.