Friday, April 23, 1999
Selectmen consider moratorium and cell tower proposals
Paul Gill of Judy Farm Road spoke in support of Article 35 of the town Warrant to establish a six-month moratorium on the granting of special permits for wireless communication facilities. The same presentation was well-received by the planning board on April 12, but the selectmen were not as encouraging. "I'm not sure we need a moratorium," said chair Vivian Chaput. "We can do everything now without it since we already have a decent bylaw that gives the public reasonable protection."
Selectman Mike Fitzgerald agreed. "I don't understand what the moratorium would buy us," he said. "Every safeguard is already in place. The board of appeals has the power to evaluate each application and seek public input." However, selectman Doug Stevenson felt that the more time the town has, the better, providing it did not leave the town open to a lawsuit. "Absent the legal issue," said Stevenson, "I don't see why there's opposition to a six-month moratorium."
The selectmen eventually agreed that they have serious concerns about Article 35 as presented and will make a full report at Town Meeting after review by town counsel.
Jennine Blum lives on Elizabeth Ridge Road near the proposed cell tower on the department of public works (DPW) yard and has some strong feelings on allowing towers in Carlisle. "This will severely impact a person when selling their home," she stated. Fitzgerald sympathized, but cited the 1996 Telecommunications Act that prohibits communities from keeping the towers out and allows the FCC to ignore state and local zoning ordinances. "But the board owes it to their citizens to protect them from harm. Protect the living souls and not the cell companies," demanded Blum.
Town administrator David DeManche presented the results of recent Request For Proposals (RFPs) for the four town-owned cell tower sites (Foss Farm, Banta-Davis Land, DPW, and Conant Land). Planning board administrator George Mansfield, building inspector Bob Koning, and DeManche visited the four sites and rated them on a scale of 1 (best) to 4. Based on three categories of lot size, proximity to populated areas, and vistas, Foss Farm had the dubious honor of receiving the top ranking for desirable cell tower location. Banta-Davis was second, DPW third, and Conant last.
DeManche then evaluated the telecommunication tower proposals in seven categories at each site and rated them from 3 (highly advantageous) to 0 (unacceptable). ATT won over Nextel at Foss Farm by a score of 15-13. Nextel came back to beat Sprint at Banta-Davis 13-12. ATT trounced NLS Group SP
at the DPW site by a score of 12-6, and Sprint fended off both Omnipoint and Edwards on the Conant Land with scores of 13-12-10 respectively.
"Now that we've narrowed things down," said Chaput, "we have to decide exactly where to put each tower. Where the telecom companies want it may not be where the town wants it." She asked DeManche to write letters to the top two or three companies to ask for potential locations plus other details. "Also mention that abutter-impact will be considered," she emphasized. Both Gill and the board of selectmen are asking for volunteers to assist in an ad hoc cell tower advisory group. Contact Gill or DeManche if you're interested.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito