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Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett

Mayor Bennett says he disagrees with Councilman Todd Nation on a proposal limiting new broadcast tower construction in downtown.

A Terre Haute city councilman who’s written an ordinance hoping to limit the number of broadcast towers in the city’s downtown says he expects his measure to be amended before it is approved.  But the city’s mayor says he’d rather see the topic addressed in a more comprehensive manner.

4th District Councilman Todd Nation has proposed a ban on new towers just as a local television station says it needs to build one in order to transmit its signal to a larger tower in Farmersburg.  But Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” said he’d rather see the tower issue addressed as just one of many when the city attempts to draft a new unified planning ordinance, or UDO, next year.

“Councilman Nation, he wants to push this through in order to not have this happen in this particular project so we don’t add another tower, when maybe we should have been having this discussion six months ago before the project even came to the table or the next project comes to the table,” Bennett said.

But Nation said the city has dawdled on adopting the UDO, adding he wonders if language written into a version from three years ago would have prevented the current debate.

“The reality is that it’s a huge, stale document since it’s been sitting on a shelf since 2008.  Hopefully by the time it does come before the council, it’ll include adequate protections against new towers downtown,” Nation said.

Nation said lawyers for WTHI-TV argue that since building new towers is not explicitly forbidden in city bylaws, then it is effectively permitted.  His ordinance singles out broadcast towers as structures which are to be strictly regulated in their construction. Nation said he expects his proposal to be tabled and later amended so it finds favor with a majority of the council, adding he doesn’t expect his efforts will stop WTHI from putting up its new tower.

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