Whitehall-Coplay Press

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Council hears plan for cellular antennae upgrades

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

At the March 3 Coplay Borough Council workshop meeting, Katina Boyce, a spokeswoman for Verizon, gave a general overview of the proposed upgrades for cellular communication antennae that will be placed throughout the borough.

The plan calls for 20 antennae mounted to PPL poles at locations throughout the borough. The exact location will be determined after the radio-frequency engineers develop a plan and the installation crews walk the borough.

There is no defined timetable for the job, but Boyce hinted it would be sometime this year.

She said Verizon is experiencing capacity problems in the area. The antennae are a combination of 4G and 5G technology. The higher frequency of the 5G system requires the transmission lines to be closer to the end user (your phone). Higher-frequency signals do not travel as far as lower-frequency signals.

The discussion was only an introduction to the project. Verizon still needs to comply with permitting requirements and local approvals. Zoning considerations are largely nil. The state passed a bill that allows installing these smaller antennae at almost any location because the network is considered a necessary utility.

What is still unclear is if the antennae would be used by multiple carriers or if other carriers will be in the borough installing their own antennae.

Ruth Thompson made a substantial donation for the purchase of a town clock back in 2017, and she asked council for an update. She said she had hoped to see the clock installed last year. Councilman Charles Sodl explained the cost of the clock exceeded expectations, but it is expected to be in the borough in July. There is still a financing shortfall, but the borough will likely fund the balance to get the clock installed.

There was some discussion about the wastewater woes at the Allentown Wastewater Treatment Plant. The borough’s wastewater is handled by the Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority, which was said to be following all the regulations on clearwater infiltration into the system. Public works Director Paul Boyle, who also sits on the CWSA board, explained most of the infiltration problems are happening with municipalities on the west side of the Lehigh Valley. Some municipalities have taken no action, despite the Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

Coplay Borough Fire Chief Brandyn Bechtel asked council to pass an ordinance to allow the volunteer fire department to charge a fee for residential and commercial fires that are covered by insurance. In most cases, the insurance company will pay a portion of the costs incurred by the fire department. Council agreed to act.

Auditors are expected to be at borough hall to review the books and pension funds. Councilwoman Janet Eisenhauer expressed her surprise the borough records had not been audited in nearly a decade.