Friday, December 3, 1999
Selectmen send strong signal to encourage cell towers on town land
After six months of holding the barbarians at the gate, the selectmen are now laying out the welcome mat for cell tower proposals on town-owned land. Stressing the financial benefit to the town, board of selectmen chair Doug Stevenson summarized the board's position on November 23. He said that the town is open to receiving proposals to have a cell tower sited on town-owned land, but that the applicant must first comply with the requirements of the new cell tower bylaw approved at the November Town Meeting. According to wireless communications advisory committee (WCAC) chair Paul Gill, the town could receive between $15,000 and $30,000 annually from each telecommunications company that uses a cell tower located on town land.
After hearing input from the WCAC, the selectmen opted to wait for proposals from telecommunications companies rather than actively solicit proposals. According to Gill, the WCAC had voted unanimously to let the telecommunications companies take the first step. "We don't know what their needs are," said Gill, who reminded the board that under the new bylaw an applicant must demonstrate need and propose a specific plan to meet that need. The applicant must also meet the 900-foot setback requirement of the new bylaw, which applies to all facilities except those installed in existing structures. In other words, said Stevenson, "We welcome them, but they need to do all the work."
Stevenson stated, however, that the board does not want to be uncooperative, adding that if the board sends an applicant away with a cold shoulder, the company could find a "friendly co-applicant" to sponsor a cell tower on private land. Along these lines, selectman Burt Rubenstein stated that there has already been strong interest expressed in siting a tower at the First Religious Society. Selectman Vivian Chaput pondered whether a more promotional stance might be warranted if the town is serious about wanting a cell tower on town land.
The procedure agreed upon would have an applicant do its homework under the new bylaw and make a proposal to the town. The town would then put out a request for proposals to give other companies the opportunity to bid on the project, as required by law.
The new wireless communications facilities bylaw, which was approved at the Special Town Meeting after a six-month moratorium on the construction of cell towers in town, is still awaiting approval by the state attorney general. Under the new bylaw, the permit for construction and operation of a cell tower is granted by the planning board with the help of a technical advisory committee. On November 23, the selectmen also created the wireless applications advisory committee and appointed Gill as one of the five members. Anyone interested in volunteering for the remaining openings on this committee should contact the selectmen.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito