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The 32-acre New York State Electric & Gas energy farm on Stolle Road in Elma is being sized up by the utility for a 280-foot communications tower.

Jackie Murray, the attorney representing NYSEG, discussed the project before a recent work session of the Elma Town Board and urged the board to help the utility expedite the project.

However, Supervisor Dennis Powers told Murray, "It would be difficult for the town to meet deadline for completion of the tower infrastructure with the layers you will have to go through."

Powers pointed to requirements such as an environmental study and public hearings. Murray said NYSEG needs the tower for public safety and homeland security and said NYSEG likely will receive grant money to erect it.

The tower, to be located 900 feet north of Stolle Road, would also include an equipment shelter and be surrounded by a chain-link fence, with an access driveway.

Murray asked the town to bypass the required Zoning Board of Appeals process because of tower height restrictions. Towers 50 feet and taller require a variance.

"It would be an incredible challenge to get the tower done by the end of the year so NYSEG could get the Department of Energy grant money," Murray said.

Powers replied that Murray was "putting us under the gun."

"It's late in the year now," he said. "We have never bypassed the Zoning Board of Appeals for a zoning permit."

In other matters, the board discussed using funding raised by building fees to purchase green space to preserve the town's rural nature.