Friday, April 11, 2003
Nextel still looking for cell tower site
What would you think if you gave a party, and the guest of honor didn't show? The Board of Appeals (BOA) assembed in the Clark Room at Town Hall on Thursday night, April 4, and lots of town folk came out, but the honored guest, Nextel Communications, was a no-show.
Nextel Communications has again petitioned the board for variances to town bylaws to construct a telecom-munications facility at 1 River Road. The initial application was made in 1999. However, at that time the Board of Health required the property owners at this site to remove old oil tanks on the land before the application could move forward. Last year, Nextel repetitioned the BOA for variances to construct a 100-foot "stealth" cell tower · a tower disguised as a pine tree.
Then last September, when AT&T and the American Cell Tower Corporation negotiated a lease on the Duren property at 662 Bedford Road to build a 150-foot monopine cellular communications tower, Nextel asked the board for a continuance, temporarily dropping their plan to build a tower at 1 River Road. Instead the board dismissed without prejudice their application, which allowed the company to reapply without waiting a prerequisite two years. Last January, Nextel pulled out of the American Tower petition citing its concern with the terms demanded by American Tower, claiming them to be "unreasonable" and had called the environment "exploitative."
While the American Tower plan lies mired in the courts, having sued the town for denying their application, Nextel has resurrected their initial plan, and submitted it to the BOA. However, no one representing the company showed up at eight o'clock, the scheduled tinme for the hearing. After waiting 40 minutes for a spokesperson to arrive, the board tried to call both the property owner at 1 River Road, and Nextel. There was no response at either location.
The board discussed how best to proceed. In the past board member Eliassen said they have given the benefit of the doubt to the petitioner, and allowed the application to continue until the next meeting without taking any action. However, in this case, the board is given only 100 days from the date of the initial application, on February 19 (two days too late to make last month's meeting), to reach a final decision. Thus the board was worried about the time squeeze that would result from beginning discussion at the next scheduled meeting which is May 2.
The board decided to deny without prejudice the Nextel application to construct a cellular tower. This allows the company to reapply immediately, instead of waiting the required two years. If Nextel were to reapply, clock for the 100-day deliberation period would start over.
© 2003 The