published Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Marion County cell tower lease extension approved

By Ryan Lewis, Correspondent

KIMBALL, Tenn. -- After months of wrangling over a proposed cell tower lease extension with SBA Communications in Boca Raton, Fla., city leaders are ready to move on to other business.

SBA is an independent wireless communications infrastructure company that leases space on its towers to wireless carriers, officials said.

The lease extension plan first came before the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen in November 2011, and officials finally had a deal worked out in February.

However, officials said SBA had made no contact with Jasper, Tenn., which jointly owns the property with Kimball on which the cell tower is built.

In February, the board instructed Kimball Attorney Billy Gouger to contact Dee Ware, a representative with SBA's real estate acquisitions department, to inform the company Kimball was going to table a vote on the lease extension until contact was made with Jasper city leaders.

Gouger said Jasper now has received paperwork on the proposal "comparable to what Kimball has" for Jasper officials to review.

"[Jasper] had not, up to that point, received any communications from the company that Kimball had received," he said. "I really don't understand why. It seems to me getting an extended lease with Kimball but not one from Jasper really does them no good since [the property] is jointly owned."

After Jasper's review is complete, Gouger said, city administrators will contact Kimball to "make sure both towns are on the same page" before trying to extend the lease terms.

Kimball's board recently voted unanimously to approve the agreement "as stated" contingent on the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen's approval and Gouger's endorsement.

"That would at least get it off our agenda and put the ball in their court," Vice Mayor Rex Pesnell said.

Under the proposed terms, another 25 years would be added onto the existing lease, which wouldn't expire until April 30, 2049. Starting in 2024, Kimball's rent for the site would go up by 15 percent every five years, officials said.

Kimball now receives more than $3,900 per year in rent for the site, officials said, but by the end of the new proposed agreement the city would get about $10,500 per year.

"We should probably get a discount on this since we've been over it 15 times," Kimball Mayor David Jackson said, jokingly.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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