December 19, 2012WHITEFIELD — Abutters to the 195-foot lattice communications tower off 66 Greenwood Street packed a public hearing on Tuesday night, Dec. 11, in the municipal offices.
A number voiced their concerns about the project proposed by Bay-State-based Industrial Communications-Northeast Wireless Networks.
The proposal calls for 3.62 acres to be divided off a 24-acre parcel owned by Claude and Sara Roy. It includes underground power to an 80- by 80-foot compound on a cleared 100- by 100-foot site that would be surrounded by an eight-foot chain-link fence and a six-inch base of three-quarter-inch stone.
As background, Planning Board chairman Ed Betz pointed out that on Sept. 18 the developer held a conceptual meeting with the Planning Board. The Planning Board asked for coverage maps and emergency access information.
The application was received on Oct. 24, which started the clock ticking under the federal Telecommunications Act. The town now has 150 days in which to make a decision, following a certain process.
Betz reviewed what services are being proposed: digital signal, caller ID, voicemail, and high-quality reception for transmitting data,
Tom Buckley of Northeast Wireless Networks, a wireless carrier, explained that the company's aim is to provide services for roaming environments and enhanced broadband services.
Abutter Jerry McGee asked why an antenna could not instead be put on the Mann's Hill water tower.
Beverly Bousquet asked about access to the proposed tower site via the existing driveway. She believes that trucks will have an issue getting into the driveway.
Tania Mosher asked whether the developer would have to dig under her driveway to get underground power to the site. The developer replied that another pole would be put up.
Edgar Cormier asked if the developer could put up a shorter tower shorter since he is worried that a tall tower might fall on his property. The developer reported that the tower could not fall onto another property.
Cormier also asked about microwave dangers, and he was assured that according to FCC standards no danger exists.
John Ryan asked about the radiation danger.
Abutters also pointed out that because of its height and location, the proposed tower would be seen from the village.
The developer explained that because the village is located, in essence, in a hole, the further it is placed away from the village, the more coverage would be compromised.
No height warning lights would be required atop the tower, the developer said.
Former selectman Joe Elgosin explained that FAA regulations do not allow for flights over the village lower than 2,000 feet.
The application packet includes an FAA report stating the federal agency's determination that the tower would be "no hazard to air navigation"
Public Works' director Shawn White asked the developer why a lattice tower is being proposed rather a less intrusive monopole. The pole's style is negotiable, the developer replied.
Aggy Chase said that the balloon used in a test was visible from virtually everywhere in town. "How many different antennas are proposed for this tower?" she asked. "Will there also be dishes?" If the tower is approved, then other carriers could rent space for antennas anywhere on the top three-quarters of the tower, the developer replied. Right now there are only five major carriers.
Rep.-elect Marcia Hammon of Whitefield asked why other high points in town with good sightlines are not being proposed. The developer replied this would not provide in-town or village coverage.
The developer did not know how much the assessment would typically be on a tower of this size and height as well as what property taxes would likely be generated.
Mosher and Cormier both are concerned that the resale value of their respective properties would fall.
Betz explained the town's "absolute criteria" for all development. Four years ago when the Master Plan was updated residents said they were concerned about the visual impact of development. He said he understands the economic benefits of having today's technologies available to businesses and tourist as well as potential tradeoffs.
The Board would like to speak to experts at the state level.
A summary of the Board concerns will be sent to the developer. Betz said that the Board could use guidelines developed by state Office of Energy and Planning (OEP).
The Planning Board hearing will be continued at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Further notices will not be mailed.
Prior to that, the Board will hold a work session at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.