Friday, May 24, 2002
Bedford Road cell tower application still incomplete
Cell tower applicant Dave Woodward was able to provide the Carlisle Board of Appeals with a bigger and better map of the land off Bedford Road on which he proposes to build a cell tower, but with little else that the board was looking for. Missing from the presentation was the evidence that the board requires data which shows a lack of cellular coverage and provides evidence that this particular site will meet that need.
BOA member Midge Eliassen told the applicant, "This is a fresh hearing and you need to provide the evidence because we can only address the information you give us at this hearing." Chair Terry Herndon encouraged Woodward to look at the public record, because the evi-dence that there is a need was already established in past hearings. He said, "There is data, but it needs to be supplied."
Who sent the photos?
The board had also requested a new balloon test be done at the proposed height of the new cell tower, 199 feet. This was done on May 4, but Woodward could not provide the pictures that were taken at that time. He told the board that his wife had taken some pictures, but the balloon wasn't visible. However, he had alerted the abutters as to the time of the test.
At this point in the hearing Eliassen asked if Woodward and/or anyone in the audience had sent them pictures of the test and of a lattice tower that the applicant is proposing to build. It seems that the board had received a number of photos without any identification. Eliassen said they could not accept material that is submitted without a name.
The mystery was solved when townsperson David Duren spoke up from the audience saying that the material had been submitted by him. Duren is the owner of the property on Bedford Road on which American Tower Corporation (ATC) and co-applicants had proposed to build a monopole tower, over the vociferous objections of the abutters. The BOA did not grant ATC the necessary variances, and the town is currently being sued by those applicants.
Most abutters far from site
Woodward reviewed the positive aspects of his proposal. The map that he presented indicated there were 34 abutters to the new cell tower site. However, all the abutters are far away from the tower and none but co-applicant Anderegg is within the 900-foot setback mandated by town bylaw. The map showed the land largely surrounded by public land including Foss Farm, federal lands and other wetlands. He said the tower would be visible at only three spots, far away from the road. Those visible spots include Davis Road, the Woodward property, and from Route 225 near the river looking across the corn field. The location of the tower, with the line-of-sight technology that currently is used for radio frequencies, would make this signal carry as far as Towle Field on the north, and into Billerica, Bedford and Concord.
Will the tower site 'work?'
Board member Hal Sauer asked the applicant how he knew that this site would work. Woodward reiterated that he wants the approval of this board before he hires radio frequency engineers. "When I get to the planning board I will supply this." He said that he won't move forward without four signed contracts. "I can't afford to build a tower for just one carrier."
Questioned by audience members, the Heards of Maple Street, the issue of the height and type of tower was revisited. Woodward is proposing a lattice type of structure, which is not approved by the town bylaws. Jay Heard commented that the lattice type of pole "makes it more unsightly." Woodward reiterated that a lattice-type of tower was cheaper to build, needed less foundation, was a stronger structure, and more equipment could be added at any level. Board member Sauer told Woodward that a variance cannot be given because something costs less; it must have to do with land topography, etc. Woodward is looking for a variance for both the type and the height of the proposed tower.
BOA faces contradictory laws
The board continues to struggle with the contradictory laws from the state and from the federal government under which the board acts. The state laws require that the board give variances based only on land features. The Federal Telecommunications Act compels town governments to permit telecom companies to provide seamless coverage. Herndon expressed the board's frustration. "The state has not given local boards any guidance in regard to state laws, as they conflict with federal government requirements," he said. Board member Shann Kerner told the struggling board members, "We have to take both sets of laws into mind, and make the best decision we can."
Planning board has final decision
Planning board member Dan Holzman was in the audience to hear the presentation. The planning board has the authority to decide on the cell tower and all the technical details involved once the board of appeals grants the necessary variances. Holzman told the board more than once, "The planning board will not consider any application until it has been granted all variances needed."
The petition was continued to June 6 when Woodward assured the board he would be able to supply some of the material it needs to make a decision. The application decision deadline was extended to September 12.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito