Photo: General Dynamics.

CBP plans to build surveillance towers in Derby, North Troy

in Derby/Newport/News/North Troy

DERBY LINE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is planning to construct two new video surveillance towers 120 feet high along the U.S.-Canadian border in Derby and North Troy.

Through the use of these towers, they say they will be able to survey rural areas and classify illegal entries without committing numerous agents in vehicles to perform the same functions.

The proposed tower location in the town of Derby is listed as Letourneau Field, an open agricultural land.

The property is zoned rural residential, and there is a residential single-family home, farming facilities, and storage structures situated approximately 1/2 mile away from the tower construction area.

The proposed tower location site in the village of North Troy is owned and formerly operated by Ammex Discount Tax and Duty-Free Shops.

The location is surrounded by the Canadian border to the north, a CBP-owned Land Port Of Entry to the west, and an undeveloped residential property to the east and south.

CBP says the tower would be constructed west of the abandoned duty-free shop in the former parking area.

The federal agency filed a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed project, stating it would have no significant impact, however, the project does list a few potential concerns.

The location of the sites was inserted into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Information, Planning, and Conservation System to determine if any threatened, endangered, or candidate species could be present.

Two mammal species were identified with potential for presence at the sites in Orleans county.

During a September 2018 survey, the report states that a potentially suitable habitat for the Northern long-eared bat was found at the perimeter of the North Troy site.

The report says CBP has determined the installation of towers under the proposed action “may affect” the Northern long-eared bat.

In Derby, the Canada lynx was identified as having a potential distribution at the Letourneau Field location.

The report dismisses this finding and states that the open agricultural space and lack of primary prey in the open area of the site make the presence of the species unlikely.

The report states that the biggest risk to human health and safety from the operation of the tower would be radio frequency and electromagnetic radiation exposure from surveillance towers.

The report dismisses this as well and goes on to say that:

“USBP would follow all training, licensing, and regulation requirements pertaining to people and equipment involved in the operation of the tower, therefore, no significant adverse impacts are expected to occur. Therefore, this topic was dismissed from further consideration.”

The permanently fixed towers in Derby and North Troy will be monopole structures with a platform at the top.

Each tower consists of two camera bundles, each bundle consisting of a remotely controlled pan-tilt-unit and two cameras.

Towers typically have two to four microwave communications antennas, which are either 4-foot or 6-foot-diameter dish antennas.

Construction time for the towers is expected to be 30-45 days, depending on site conditions.

A public comment period of 30 days began yesterday, after which a final environmental impact statement will be issued.

CBP has not indicated when construction of the towers was likely to start.

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