Friday, May 11, 2007
Sorli Farm cell tower plan reviewed
The Planning Board continued the hearing on the application by Omnipoint Communications, Inc. to build a personal wireless communication facility on the Sorli Farm at 1022 Westford Road, requesting more specifics about how the project would improve cell phone service in the surrounding area.
Road test data
Data supplied by the applicant showed improved signal strength with the construction of a tower at least 80 feet tall. Attorney Brian Grossman, representing Omnipoint Communications, stated that if a 60-foot monopole tower was approved Omnipoint would not build it. His position was it would provide insufficient coverage based on "drive-by" tests conducted. The tests involved operating a continuous wave-signal generator at the proposed monopole height at the site while driving the roads in town with a vehicle fitted with instrumented cell phones positioned on the dashboard. Location and signal strength were recorded and plotted on a map of the town.
In reviewing the data, the board noted that coverage was improved for the 80-foot height over that provided by 60-foot; however, there was not that much improvement provided by 90-foot over the 80-foot data. Members observed that one advantage of a taller monopole is that additional wireless carriers could be accommodated in the same monopole. The plots can be viewed at the Planning Board office as part of Omnipoint's application.
What's the big picture?
Board member Brian Larson pointed to a deficiency in the application in terms of a requirement of the bylaw ["18.104.22.168.4 The applicant shall provide a map of all proposed facilities (or a for in the Town of Carlisle and all abutting towns."] The intent is to permit the board to determine how an individual application fits into plans for providing ample coverage throughout the town. Absent such an analysis or plan, Larson suggested that a DAS (distributed antenna system) could be a better solution.
Board consultant David Maxson reviewed the submitted data and offered the board some constructive criticism regarding issuance of special permits, "Rather than just a restatement of the bylaw or item in the board's Rules and Regulations, each finding of the board should include a fact or series of facts that support that finding."
Cell tower and agriculture
Larry Sorli, owner of the property, spoke in favor of the board granting the special permit for the site. He said, "One person in the family has spoken opposed to it." (See "Planning Board continues cell tower hearing," Mosquito, March 23, 2007.) "My parents are in favor. It will permit the farm to remain a farm. Right now I'm the only one there who can farm the field. We are 'land-poor.' The money (from leasing to wireless) would pay the taxes and help maintain the property in farming rather than into a 40B or other development." He concluded with, "Nothing is forever but subdivisions last forever."
Board Chair David Freedman, said "I appreciate that you made that point." Member Greg Peterson said, "Some things should be obvious but I think that it is important that it should be a part of the public record."
The special permit and site plan review hearing will be continued on May 14 at 8:30 p.m.
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