A controversial radio tower has been shot down in Madison County leaving the station uncertain where to go next.
The Madison County Board of Supervisors voted earlier this month to deny a special exception for a 280-foot radio tower west of North Livingston and Lake Cavalier.
The issue came up in the May 19 meeting of the supervisors. However, the matter was tabled until Matthew Wesolowski, the applicant for the special exception, could be in attendance to present his side to the board.
The tower was intended for the transmission of WYAB 103.9 FM’s radio signal. Wesolowski was requesting the board’s approval to build the tower and a 10x10-foot shed on 2.73 acres of 16th section land leased by the Madison County School District.
While the station’s studio would remain in Flora, the station was requesting the special exception for a broadcast site in Madison.
District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter said the board denied the special exception in that area. He suggested they move it somewhere else.
“There was some concern about it being too close to some houses,” Baxter said. “I know there were some residents in Bridgewater who were opposed to it. One particular resident said it was going to be 1,500 feet from his door.”
In response to moving the tower elsewhere, Wesolowski said that did not seem to be an option as there is not another piece of property nearby that would work.
“There are none that are in close proximity to the neighborhood,” he said. “And at the end of the day, it would still have to be in that same general area.”
“I honestly just don’t know what we’re going to do from here,” he added. “It’s not beneficial, that’s for sure. But we’re on the air now and we will continue to operate where we are for the time being.”
Wesolowski said one of the concerns mentioned at the meeting was that staff would be in and out of the site each day. However he said that would not have been an issue as the site was never meant to hold the studio, where the team works.
He added he had no idea there was any opposition to the proposed tower, as there was no one present at any of the other stages of the process.
“We followed all the necessary procedures,” he said. “We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. We even had an additional layer of scrutiny.”
The station had to gain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, the Madison County School Board and Madison County Planning and Zoning, all before reaching the Board of Supervisors.
“At all four of these steps there was no opposition when it was time for public comment,” he said. “I had no knowledge until I showed up at the supervisors meeting. We were really caught off guard.”
“To me this is saying Madison is closed for business for communications companies,” he added. “I believe this sets a dangerous precedent for communications companies coming (to the board) after us.”