Friday, June 25, 2004
Planning Board, cell companies close to agreement on cell tower
The Planning Board again met on June 14 to hear the response of AT&T and the telecommunications companies to the board's conditions for the construction and maintenance of the 189-foot wireless communications tower and facilities on the Anderegg property at 871 Bedford Road. The cell companies objected to eight of the 27 conditions, which are now still up for negotiation. The remaining 19 conditions, which involved issues such as formatting the construction documents and carrying out the project under Massachusetts State law by a Massachusetts registered professional engineer, maintaining the safety of the tower and facilities, prohibiting unauthorized access to the tower, maintaining proper access along the service road in the winter, and limiting the visibility of the tower from the surrounding public roadways, have already been clearly defined.
Most of the objections related to the economic feasibility of the proposed conditions. The first item still at issue is the construction of a gravel access road to a 12-foot width in all locations with defined turnouts at strict 300-foot intervals. Town Counsel Kim Saillant pointed out to the board that in many places the roadway already met the width requirement and no wetlands or other barriers existed on the road; therefore the road appeared to satisfy the board's requirement that the tower and facility be accessible by emergency and service vehicles. The board agreed to allow turnouts at "reasonable intervals" that allowed for proper visibility.
Second, the cell companies questioned the precise terms the board had requested in the roadway maintenance agreements between the property owner and the cell companies. The board reiterated that this language had been included merely to assure that the town would not be responsible for the maintenance of the roadway.
Third, the companies objected to the barring of a permanent power generator on site, stating that if the FAA were ever to change its regulations such that a light would be required on the facility or tower in the future, they would not be able to comply with the law. The board agreed to allow for the "possibility" of a generator, if it became necessary. The cell companies also questioned the cost effectiveness of installing all of the utility lines below ground. The board stated it would require below ground installation from Bedford Road to fifty feet beyond where the access road splits, and beyond that point would allow the cell companies to install as they saw fit.
Fourth, the cell providers asked for a more precise definition of terms used in the landscaping plan around the tower and the roadway, which was intended to flag and limit the cutting of trees. The board stated it would make this condition more precise to show cutting limits to be within 10 feet of the tower and facilities and within 50 feet of Bedford Road along the access road.
Fifth, the cell companies also objected to conditions regarding maintaining a structural evaluation of the facility and monitoring the facilities' RF output. The board agreed that it would follow the recommendation of former Planning Board member, Dan Holzman, who suggested that structural evaluation of the facility every three years was recommended, but this could be increased to every five years if possible.
Sixth, the cell companies objected to using a bond to cover the cost of complete tower removal, in the event that it became necessary, and the board stated it would be willing to negotiate an alternate form of surety with cell companies.
The board asked that Saillant further negotiate with the cell companies on the revised terms proposed on the remaining conditions.
In April, the U.S. District court resolved a number of lawsuits by the cell tower companies, stating that the conditions for construction of the cell tower will either need to be agreed upon by the parties or submitted to the court for decision.
© 2004 The