Elk­ton ap­proves Belle Hill wa­ter tower land pur­chase

Will al­low third­party leases for in­come

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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.

ELK­TON

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.”

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

The Elk­ton town board ap­proved the pur­chase of the land the Belle Hill Wa­ter Tower sits on Wed­nes­day night.

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