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Appleton collected more than $250,000 through 14 leases. The Town of Menasha brought in $246,000, and Neenah made $176,000.

The antenna sites provide a steady stream of money, with carriers willing to pay the fees rather than build their own towers. But some communities aren’t happy, particularly because of a state law that restricts their ability to manage cell towers.

As a result of the 2013 Biennial Budget Act, local governments can no longer prohibit cellphone towers in particular locations or limit their height to less than 200 feet. Nor can they deny a tower based on aesthetics or the availability of a more suitable location.

The cellphone industry lobbied heavily for the legislation, saying some municipalities were creating difficult hurdles or demanding exorbitant fees.

“They were holding the companies somewhat hostage, saying, ‘We’re not going to let you put these in our community,’” said state Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah.