The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 7, 2004


Planning Board, residents review proposed cell tower at 871 Bedford Road

After five years of applications, hearings, and litigation, the first cell tower is approaching reality. The Planning Board held a public meeting on April 26 to discuss and review the site plans for the 189-foot wireless communication tower and facilities that the courts have directed the town to permit on the Anderegg property at 871 Bedford Road.

Court mandate

A March 2004 decision of the U.S. District Court, which consolidated and settled the multiple lawsuits with all interested parties, including the Town of Carlisle and the wireless carriers, permitted the construction, operation and maintenance of the wireless communication tower and facilities on the Anderegg property, subject to conditions agreed upon by the Planning Board and the plaintiffs. The court required the board to hold a duly-noticed public meeting within 30 days of the date of the judgment to discuss the plans with the plaintiffs. The court limited the board's role to submitting conditions which address the construction and maintenance of the tower and facilities, but do not alter the height, location or style of the tower, which was fixed by the court's order.

In August 2002, the Board of Appeals had approved the variances requested to build the facility on the boundary between the Woodward and Anderegg properties located at 767 and 871 Bedford Road, respectively. But due to a number of lawsuits filed by various parties, including parties who had been previously denied a variance for a wireless facility at 662 Bedford Road, the Anderegg/Woodward application for a special permit and site plan approval never made it before the Planning Board.

189-foot monopole

At the April 26 meeting, which filled the Clark Room at Town Hall with concerned neighbors, citizens, and the property owners and plaintiffs involved, Doug Wilkins of AT&T Wireless presented plans which showed the design of the single 189-foot monopole tower (containing no external antenna) and its setback from surrounding residences and Bedford Road. Wilkins' plans showed that the tower is well-screened and hidden by trees, and its visibility from Maple Street and Bedford Road would be minimal. He recommended painting the tower gray to help it blend in with the skyline.

Residents voice concerns

Matt Hamor of 715 Bedford Road and other members of the audience voiced a number of their concerns, including: (1) safety issues arising from the facility's remoteness and the likelihood it could create an attractive nuisance and be susceptible to vandalism, (2) fitness of the current roadway for emergency access and utility needs by public vehicles, and (3) location of the facility in a potentially environmentally sensitive area. Douglas Goodale of 271 Maple Street also questioned whether lighting, which is not currently required on a facility shorter than 200 feet, could ever be required if the FAA were to change the current law.

Board proposes conditions

The board stressed that they had some of the same concerns, and then began to lay out its conditions to AT&T Wireless and the Anderegg family. The conditions raised by board member Dan Holzman included the following: approval of the construction documents by the building inspector and a representative of the board, inclusion on the construction documents of the access road's design and the model/make of the tower as well as an "as-built" stamping, design of the tower to be carried out by a Massachusetts registered professional engineer, construction of the tower to be carried out under applicable Massachusetts State law, use of interior mounted antennas on the tower, specification of the foundation design of the tower, final determination of the color of the tower, location of an easement over the access road for the town's emergency vehicles, and posting of a bond by the carriers in case of their potential abandonment of the tower.

Planning Board Chair Louise Hara also raised a number of additional conditions, including the following: prohibiting unauthorized access to the tower by use of chain link fencing around the facility and housing cabinets for current or any future carriers' equipment, creating a buffer around the facility by use of trees and a landscape plan, determining the carriers' future plans for monitoring and maintaining the tower's operations, maintaining proper access along the service road in the winter, posting proper signage to identify the location of the tower along the private access road, review of the adequacy of the road by the Fire Chief, and determination of any environmental issues raised by potential use of any hazardous materials on the site and removal of these materials, if necessary, under applicable laws.

Additional conditions suggested by board member David Freedman included: the use of underground power lines running to the facility to prevent possible power outages that could result from downed trees, and minimizing disruption to neighbors during construction of the tower. Member Tom Lane's conditions also included: prohibiting the use of a generator permanently on site, prohibiting the use of a light on the tower, limiting the visibility of the tower from the surrounding public roadways, seeking the opinion of the Conservation Commission to see if any environmental issues exist, and determining the role of the board in the future if modification to the special permit to be issued were to occur.

Per the court order, the board has 30 days after this public meeting to submit to the plaintiffs and the Anderegg family its final written list of conditions, which must be agreed upon by the parties or submitted to the court for decision.

The board will continue discussing proposed conditions on May 10.

March 12, 1999

Town receives its first application from Nextel Communications to build a cell tower at 1 River Road, a commercially zoned property owned by Renfroe Realty Trust.

May 7, 1999

Board of Appeals denies River Road cell tower application, partly because of two underground oil tanks at the site, which are in violation of a town bylaw.

July 30, 1999

Spring Town Meeting passes a six-month cell tower moratorium to permit the town to evaluate the existing cell tower bylaw.

November 5, 1999

Voters overwhelmingly approve new cell tower bylaw, which requires a 900-foot setback from a dwelling.

March 10, 2000

Longtime resident David Duren of 662 Bedford Road signed a lease with AT&T for a 150-foot unlighted monopole on the rear of his Bedford Road property.

January 25, 2002

Board of Appeals denies variances for cell tower on property offered by David Duren at 662 Bedford Road.

March 1, 2002

AT&T, Verizon file lawsuits over decision by the Carlisle Board of Appeals denying variances sought by AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless in order to construct a cell tower at 662 Bedford Road.

March 15, 2002

Nextel refiles River Road cell tower application. This is the third time that Nextel has filed a cell tower application for the same site.

May 10, 2002

On May 2, 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.

June 28, 2002

Woodward proposes new site (closer to the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge) to avoid lights on cell tower.

July 19, 2002

Height of proposed cell tower reduced from 199 feet to 185 feet largely in response to neighbors' concerns.

August 16, 2002

Board of Appeals grants variances for the Woodward/Anderegg application to construct a cell tower. Applicants now need Planning Board permit..

June 20, 2003

Consultants hired by the Planning Board recommend four cell towers for Carlisle.

June 27, 2003

Experts detail recommended locations for cell towers, including a 70-foot, or higher, tower on school property.

December 12, 2003

The Board of Selectmen approves cell tower in center; asks for bylaw change.

March 19, 2004

A decision was handed down by the United States District Court, granting AT&T Wireless the right to construct a 189-foot cell tower on the Anderegg property at 871 Bedford Road. If for any reason the facility cannot be built on the Anderegg land, then the tower is to be built on the Duren property at 662 Bedford Road.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito