Birach looking at new site for Detroit AMs
Acreage in the southeast corner of Milford Township, MI has been pegged as a site for a cluster of AM towers for Birach Broadcasting. The township planning commission is considering a proposal by owner/CEO Sima Birach, who wants to construct seven directional, 199-foot towers on vacant land just west of Charms Road and north of East Maple Road, reports The Observer & Eccentric.
The tower cluster will service Fenton, MI-based WCXI-AM (1160) and Walled Lake, MI-based WPON-AM (1460). WPON has been broadcasting temporarily through WCXI-AM since the towers that were servicing it shut down a couple of years ago.
In anticipation of the proposed project, Birach purchased 60 acres and obtained an easement, environmental review, wetlands permit from the Department of Environmental Quality and permission to cross the railroad tracks that run through the property.
The site is zoned industrial and is surrounded by wetlands and other unbuildable property.
At last week’s planning commission meeting, Birach Broadcasting’s attorney Donald Samhat said Birach searched for a substantial amount of time before finding a site appropriate for the project. The Milford property satisfies FCC criteria for signal strength needed for city grade coverage area for both radio stations, he said.
However, the planning commission has voiced concern over the project’s potential electrical interference and its visual impact.
“I can’t see how this is in the best interest of the (Milford) community, the residents or Wixom,” planning commissioner Bill Mazzara said.
According to Milford planning consultant Nick Lomako, Wixom City Manager Mike Dornan agrees, and said the tower cluster will cause “site pollution” and negatively affect property values of homes in the area. Samhat said these claims are unsubstantiated.
Scott Johnson of Great Lakes Tower and Antenna Co. — which would construct the project if approved — dismissed assertions that this type of antenna cluster creates an eyesore. “These towers are hard to see,” Johnson said. “I have them around my house — you really have to look for them. They blend into the horizon very well.”
With commissioners agreeing the project demands more investigation before they vote on whether or not to recommend it to the township board for approval, Birach has been directed to return to the commissioners at their July meeting with additional information. If the plan is allowed to move forward, a public hearing will precede the township’s ruling.