Friday, May 10, 2002
New cell tower application gets friendly reception
It seemed like old times at the board of appeals last Thursday night, May 2, when David Woodward and Gretchen Anderegg presented their plan for a 199-foot cell tower, to be sited on the property line between the two owners, off Bedford Road, and abutting nothing but conservation land. Earlier this year the board had turned down the application of American Tower Corporation to place a 150-foot tower at 662 Bedford Road, which had been vigorously opposed by approximately 15 abutters.
In contrast to the scores of lawyers, engineers and technology experts that accompanied the last cell-tower application, the board and the large audience heard from longtime resident Dave Woodward. After struggling with an uncooperative briefcase, Woodward alone spoke of this new plan. Again the room was packed, and although there was little time for questions, it appeared that this audience was solidly behind this new presentation. And indeed, the BOA seemed to welcome this new option.
The absence of objections at this early stage should come as no surprise to those familiar with the cell-tower issue. The board had clearly indicated to the former petitioners, American Tower Corporation and cell phone companies, that Woodward-Andregg location should be considered seriously. According to Woodward, this site is remote from residential areas, largely invisible and is being offered by the owners.
Woodward told the board, that he had offered this site to American Tower, and the company had clearly wanted to show it was not feasible, rather than consider it as a viable alternative. The major objection to the property voiced by American Tower at that time, was that the property was under agricultural restriction. Woodward then did some groundwork and concluded that it seemed be an ideal site in terms of location, feasibility and lack of residential abutters.
The Woodward family property is currently under Chapter 16 agriculture restriction. The amount of land in question, approximately 1/8 of an acre, will be taken out of restriction, if the tower is built. Woodward said that the family owns a large parcel of land and this plan would offer the owners a way to receive revenue without having to develop the land residentially. This would also benefit the town by preserving undeveloped land. The town would also gain taxable land and, when technology develops to that extent that cell-towers will no longer be required, the structure can be torn down and the property can return to forestry use.
Woodward said that according to realtor Brigette Senkler, building a cell-tower on this property would reduce his overall property value by 20%. So, in order to make it financially feasible, he is discussing a 199-foot lattice tower with a number of cell tower companies. A lattice tower would be maximally commercial, and be able to handle the largest number of cell tower companies, according to Woodward, producing enough income to make the project workable.
The proposed site is at an elevation optimal for telecommunications usage. There is a logging road that services the area already and the location is far from residents, except for one of the applicants, Gretchen Anderegg.
A balloon test was performed by the applicants to see if the structure would be visible. In this test, it was largely invisible from the roadside except in two locations that were _ mile from the site. The test was performed in winter, prior to foliage. According to Woodward, the proposed site for the tower has been changed since this last test, adding 25 feet in elevation. A new balloon test is needed, but due to the poor weather conditions prior to the meeting, one could not be attempted.
This application is before the BOA because variances are needed for this site. The Anderegg house is only 596 feet from the proposed tower, which does not meet the setback requirement of 900 feet from a residence. This is agreeable to the Andereggs and is necessitated by the contour of the land. An additional variance would be for the tower itself. Both the height (199 feet), and the type ( lattice as opposed to the monopole) require variances from town bylaws.
Following the presentation, Woodward told board that he intended to have a partner to further develop this plan, as the cost would be between $300,000- $500,000. However, he would need some acceptance from the board before getting a partner. Board member Hal Sauer asked if he were looking for the sense of the board. BOA member Midge Eliassen said that the board can't give a sense; it can either accept or reject a plan.
The board asked for more specific information to be brought to the next meeting, to include detailed maps, more information on the lattice tower versus a monopole, a new balloon test to reflect a slightly changed tower site which has 25 more feet in elevation.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito