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Lopez group seeks vote on Broadband Initiative

February 16, 2013 · Updated 3:07 PM

Lopezians want members to vote on whether OPALCO should proceed with its $34 million broadband initiative.

On Feb. 4, the Lopez Island chapter of Citizens for Safe Technology presented a “request for bylaw revision” to the local cooperative asking the OPALCO board of directors to allow members to vote on the broadband project and to impose restrictions on the number and location of Wi-Fi and cellphone towers if the project is implemented.

The group collected almost double the 50 signatures required. OPALCO is reviewing the petition and, if legally sufficient, the board will address the petition May 4, at the annual co-op meeting.

If adopted by the board, the bylaw amendment would restrict towers to existing sub-stations and require a vote of all property owners within 1,500 feet of any other location.

The OPALCO board recently approved a six to nine-month program of community engagement to educate co-op members about the $34 million project.

Plans call for all members to pay $15 per month to defray construction costs, and $75 per month to connect with the internet. OPALCO has already obtained a multi-million dollar loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help fund the project.

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