The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 28, 2000


Committees iron out differences on wireless bylaw

The Wireless Communications Advisory Committee (WCAC) and the planning board are co-sponsoring the wireless bylaw amendment in Article 26 of the town Warrant. The WCAC has expressed some misgivings about relinquishing power in the bylaw and relying on planning board's rules and regulations to adequately cover the technical requirements. The wireless group voted unanimously at their April 14 meeting to appear at the planning board public hearing on April 24 and present a revised version of the proposed amendment package. They also voted to hold another meeting prior to the public hearing in order to draft the proposed changes. During that meeting on April 20, they resolved many of these differences amongst themselves, leaving two recommended changes for the planning board's April 24 public hearing.

The revised "cell tower" bylaw had been hastily created last November before the six-month moratorium expired. Town counsel, responding to industry criticism, felt that the bylaw needed some tightening to reduce its vulnerability to challenge later on. Also, the bylaw as it stands contains many detailed specifications that will require future changes as the technology develops. Each bylaw change must be brought before Town Meeting and voted upona cumbersome process. Ideally, the bylaw specifies "what" and the planning board rules and regulations define "how." The bylaw will continue to specify key requirements, such as the 900-foot distance from a cell tower to child care facility or school. However, the "order of preference" ratings for monopole towers, repeaters, and stealth antennas would be gone. The bylaw would then remain relatively immune to technology change and the more flexible Rules and Regulations would adapt to the latest telecommunication advances.

WCAC members Paul Gill, Don Allen and Lucinda Cutrer came to the April 24 public hearing with two proposed changes. The first change focused on bylaw section, monitoring of the wireless facilities. The WCAC asked that the following wording be added: "As a minimum, monitoring of personal wireless service facilities shall consist of periodic radio frequency peak-power measurements on the feed line of every transmit antenna. Such measurements shall be made initially before start-up of any facility and subsequently, at a periodicity which shall be specified in the planning board rules and regulations." The second change merely asked that the words "shall" and "must" be restored to, evaluation by independent consultants, rather than the softened "may" proposed by the planning board.

After a lengthy discussion at the public hearing, planning board members were able to allay most of the WCAC fears regarding the effectiveness of the rules and regulations in replacing bylaw technical requirements. By the time the hearing concluded, WCAC members had backed off to only one minor change of replacing "may" with "shall" in the bylaw section on monitoring. The suggested paragraph will now read, "Monitoring of personal wireless service facilities for compliance with federal emissions standards "shall" be specified in the planning board's rules and regulations" Gill warned, however, that this agreement was not official because, even though a majority of WCAC members agreed and were in attendance, they could not vote until proper meeting notice was posted. The prospect of harmony between the two sponsors at Town Meeting was sufficient gratification for planning board members and the hearing came to a harmonious conclusion.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito