Friday, April 25, 2008
Town selects sites for cell towers
At the Selectmen’s meeting April 22, Brian Larson reported for the Wireless Application Advisory Committee on the status of the RFP (Request for Proposal) for cell towers and communications buildings on town land. Larson noted that since the vote at Town Meeting last year to allow leasing certain town locations, further work has been done. As a result, some new locations are being recommended to Town Meeting May 5.
The Selectmen formed the committee to better control where communications companies locate their towers. Under the federal Telecommunications Act, towns are very limited in their ability to refuse towers, but can make suggestions for acceptable locations. In addition, towers sited on town land can generate revenues for Carlisle, but private sites do not.
Larson said there are now five recommended sites: Banta-Davis, the DPW, the Fire Department, Town Hall, and Rockland Street. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and Larson noted it will be up to the Selectmen to decide whether to offer all sites to the companies. “We don’t have to put all in play.”
Banta-Davis is the one site of the five suggested that has already been approved at Town Meeting. It is “a pretty interesting site” which could take up to a 30- to 50-foot building and/or a 90-foot monopole. Alternatively the building could house the switching for a broadband network that would use existing telephone poles for a T1 line. The site is near the wastewater treatment plant and has power and a road. The pole would be relatively invisible, seen only from the center field baseball diamond. (“Our own Pesky Pole,” said Selectman Alan Carpenito.)
The DPW site could handle one tower not over 90 feet. Access is good and utilities are readily available. It would be visible as people enter the road to the Transfer Station. The Fire Department already has a 60-foot pole for backup communications. That would be removed and a new pole erected along the tree line where it would be less visible. However the new 90-foot pole would be visible across the street and involve some wetlands issues.
Town Hall is the highest of the sites. A location along the parking lot has been designated. A pole here could be seen from the Town Common so “would have the most visual impact” of the options. Rockland Road could have a building for network equipment but not a pole. It would not be visible, but an access road would have to be built and utilities would have to be brought in.
In all cases locations were constrained by setbacks, existing pipes and buildings, and the desire to cloak visibility. Carpenito noted cell communication is bad at his house on South Street, and Larson said the Benfield Land might be a possible location. Selectman Tim Hult added his observation that townspeople have concerns about visibility, but now he is hearing “equal concern that ‘I can’t get any cell service.’” Larson said with cell phones carrying more and more services, the signal is becoming too broad to be sent very far. As a result, additional cell towers are needed to achieve the closer distance to customers. “The direction is greater density of antennas.”
The Selectmen congratulated Larson on the work which will direct cell companies to areas of lower impact. They will meet in executive session on May 27 to discuss the RFP. ∆
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