The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 25, 1999


Nextel challenges cell tower moratorium

Attorneys for Nextel Com-munications have asked the state attorney general's office to invalidate the six-month moratorium on the granting of permits for wireless communications facilities passed at the Annual Town Meeting. In a letter dated June 4, attorney Richard L. Seegel stated, "Since the moratorium bylaw does not declare an emergency or give any proper reason for its enactment, we request that you declare this proposed zoning amendment invalid and return it to the town."

To support Nextel's position that the moratorium is unreasonable, Seegel stated that the board of appeals denied without prejudice the company's request for a special permit and then a week later passed the moratorium. The letter did not explain that the application was denied because of the presence of two underground storage tanks on the proposed site in violation of a board of health regulation and concern that the tanks might be leaking. The tanks were removed on June 3 and the tank located within the wetland buffer zone was found to be leaking.

"Perhaps what is even stranger," continued Seegel, was that the town had put out requests for proposals (RFPs) for cell towers on several town sites, to which Nextel and other carriers had responded at some expense. The town then tabled a Town Meeting Warrant article which would have allowed the town to enter into leases of the town-owned land referred to in the RFPs. The letter did not explain that the Warrant article was tabled after the moratorium passed, which made it unnecessary.

Further, Seegel stated that the moratorium declared no emergency but stated as reasons for adoption that there was a need to study the issues. Also, the town failed to designate any facilities which would be acceptable for cell towers during its study period. The letter noted that Carlisle is the only town among all of its abutters with no wireless facilities.

The selectmen decided at their meeting on June 22 to relay to the attorney general a copy of the board of appeals' decision which explains the basis of the denial. The recently-formed cell tower advisory committee will continue to monitor the situation.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito