The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 1, 2005


For AT&T cell tower it's "Make Way for Turtles"

After months, or more accurately years, of legal jockeying, it appeared that one hearing on the subject of cell towers might conclude without incident. The Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) had listened with equanimity to AT&T engineer Gregg Nawrotzki's March 24 description of his firm's plan to proceed with cell tower site work on the Anderegg Family's property off Bedford Road. However, complacency proved to be a bit premature.

Granted, the access road off Maple Street would follow an existing eight-foot-wide gravel driveway that runs the length of the property; the work would involve a simple widening of said path to ten feet and installation of a pipeline trench along the drive to the tower control building at the end, and 75-foot turnouts would occur at intervals along the route, with a T turnout at the terminus. The nearest wetlands which the engineers had voluntarily re-flagged were 130 and 150 feet respectively from the roadway and haybales were specified along the entire route. In other words, there seemed to be no reason for the commissioners to call for further information or paperwork before giving their approval. Then came an unanticipated caveat from Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard.

Perusal of a 2003 Endangered Species map from the state's Natural Heritage program contained a polygon symbol that indicated the existence of endangered Wood Turtle habitat in the area. Although she doubted that the commission had any increased jurisdiction in the matter, she had called the Natural Heritage office to find out what their recommendation would be in an instance like this. Their advice was to avoid all work in the area until conclusion of the endangered turtles' May and June wanderings in search of promising egg-laying sites.

Asked if this interval would fit in with their construction schedule, the two AT&T representatives commented wryly that this was precisely the timeframe they had contemplated for performing the work.

After a pregnant moment of silence and an exchange of questioning glances on both sides of the table, the AT&T team spoke up. After waiting this long for the required local go-aheads, they would bow to the universal appeal of their threatened reptilian neighbors and postpone the start of the project. Smiles broke out on the ConsCom side of the table and among the few listeners in the audience. The applicants were thanked for their generosity, and the project was allowed to proceed, with the assurance that the turtles' well-being would indeed be respected.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito