The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 4, 2000


Bedford Road monopole sails past ConsCom

The moment of truth for which Carlisle has been preparing over the past year has finally arrived. The conservation commission hosted a public meeting on July 27 to consider a request for determination of applicability for a new wireless communications facility. AT&T hopes to construct a 150-foot cell tower off Bedford Road.

Attorney Leeann Baker of Palmer and Dodge presented plans for the installation of a wireless communications facility on the property of Dave Duren at 662 Bedford Road. This comes as a result of a Request for Determination of Applicability requested by AT&T Wireless PCS, acting through its agent AT&T Wireless Services, Inc. Baker, accompanied by three others, including site acquisition specialist Sean Carr of Tower Research Management, described the facility as consisting of a 150-foot high monopole with a maximum of three carriers. A carrier is any one of the well-known wireless firms doing business in the area, such as Sprint, AT&T, etc. Construction of the overall project is expected to take one month.

Each of the three carriers would require a separate 12-foot by 28-foot building connected to the monopole by an ice bridge. Baker stressed that there will be no hazardous materials in the sheds. All of the antennas are contained within a 17-foot-wide area at the top of the monopole and will not be visible from the outside. "No part of the facility is within the wetland area," asserted Baker. The wetlands have been identified and flagged by Bob Lucia of Wetlands & Environmental Testing and the leased area does not intrude into the 100-foot buffer zone. Although the monopole and shelter are not within the wetland buffer zone, the proposed underground electrical and telephone lines will be routed through it, thus requiring a ConsCom public meeting.

Baker explained that a one-foot-wide by three-foot-deep trench will be dug from the wireless facility to the nearest telephone pole. It will be routed under a driveway culvert in the wetland buffer zone, just south of Duren's garage. The culvert carries water to a nearby fire pond that is not on the owner's property. The depth of three feet is required to keep the utilities below the frost line. "The telephone and power lines will be adequate for the maximum of three carriers," said Carr. "We won't have to add anything after the wiring is buried." He estimated that it will take one day to dig through the buffer area and install the underground wires. Commissioner John Lee suggested that the months of August or September, with minimum groundwater, would be a good time to dig.

Commissioner Tom Brownrigg, a bird fancier, worried about migrating birds flying into the monopole. Carr minimized the danger, citing that the main hazards were known to be lights, guy wires, and heights over 200 feet. "None of these hazards exist in the proposed facility," he responded. Brownrigg was not convinced and requested that he be allowed access to the facility during migration to observe the bird impact. This was agreeable to the wireless folks, as long as he obtains permission from the landowner.

Mary Ellen Doyle of Canterbury Court was obviously upset about the thought of having a 150-foot monopole behind her home. "Does the wetland protection act apply here?" she asked. Commissioner Eric Jensen confirmed that it does and its intent is to protect the wetland resources of the state. However, the proposed monopole site is outside of the wetland buffer zone. The other commissioners agreed. Chair of the board of appeals Terry Herndon asked how deep a foundation must be for a 150-foot monopole. When no answer was forthcoming, he postulated that it would necessarily be quite deep and could possibly fill with water during construction and be considered a wetland. Chair Carolyn Kiely viewed this as similar to a house foundation hole that may fill with water during construction, but is not considered a wetland.

The jurisdiction of the conservation commission is extremely limited in this application and the proposed wireless facility application has yet to be reviewed by the board of appeals and the planning board, which is still working on the wireless rules and regulations. ConsCom, at this point, can only pass judgment on the wetland intrusion by the underground utilities. Conservation administrator Sylvia Willard, after a site visit, described the location of the monopole and three sheds as "very gravelly with little chance of water perking into the wetland." Thus, the commissioners voted 7-0 to issue a standard order of conditions, with the requirement that Willard be notified if there is any deviation in construction of the trench due to boulders or ledge. ConsCom will also be alert to any alteration of the area subject to the wetlands protection act.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito