A telecom tower located in Rothrock State Forest, near State College, Pennsylvania, collapsed on Thanksgiving morning November 28, a victim of 44 mile-per-hour wind gusts. The tower’s tenants included the State College translator for Sinclair Broadcast Group’s NBC television affiliate WJAC and GetWireless, a rural wireless internet service provider.
SBA Towers, which owns the tower, sought to replace the existing tower with a robust lattice structure, back in 2017, before the zoning hearing board in the Ferguson Township but was denied because the municipality’s ordinance only allows monopoles in such circumstances.
Since then no one has been able to climb the tower to make repairs because it was unsafe, according to Dan Myers, president, GetWireless.
On July 23, the 180′ lattice tower structure was again the subject of a Zoning Hearing Board meeting in local municipality Ferguson Township, where its owner SBA Towers appealed the earlier decision asking for a variance of the monopole ordinance and the right to replace the existing tower with a more robust structure, also of lattice design.
At the zoning hearing meeting, SBA’s attorney Joe Perotti said, “…the present tower is about to fall over.” Perotti added, “[the tower] is a health and human risk. The existing pole is going to fall, that is a risk and people will lose service.”
After hearing the arguments, the Ferguson Township Board went into executive session. Then it approved a variance to allow a lattice tower. But it was too late, the same winds that kept floats close to the ground in the Macey’s Thanksgiving Day Parade also buffeted central Pennsylvania bringing down the tower.
At press time, AGL eDigest learned the temporary tower that was put into place is not going to accept antennas, and the expected replacement tower is no longer going to be rebuilt, according to Myers. GetWireless has contracted to move its antennas to a structure owned by Centre Communications.
David Beyerle, a professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a IEEE Communications Society Wireless Communications Professional, helped with the reporting of this story. He works as a communications engineer at Pennsylvania State University nearby the tower site.