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Lincoln receives more documents on cell tower proposal

June 25, 2014
LINCOLN—The hearing on a proposed cell tower at Loon Mountain continues this evening at the town hall. Last week, the town received two reports analyzing information Verizon Wireless submitted with the application. Verizon's application is designed to improve telecommunication and data reception for Loon guests and along Route 112.

The proposed location for the tower has changed. After initial concerns from abutting homeowners, the site was moved about 250 feet further from Westwood Association properties. During a balloon test last month, the site was again moved slightly.

Because the proposal remains pending before the planning board, chairman Pat Romprey declined comment on the new tower location. Town Manager Butch Burbank confirmed that the latest site is uphill from the previous proposal. He said discussions that took place during the May 17 balloon test led to the new proposed location for the tower, but he was uncertain about the scope of those conversations.

Abutters have expressed strong reservations about construction of a cell tower so close to homes. All proposed sites for the tower have been on Loon property, but the planning board has received many letters and heard hours of public comments against tower locations Verizon has offered.

IDK Communications provided the town with a coverage analysis last week. The document considered the proposed site, as well as two options for placement of the tower on Governor's Lodge. Abutters have supported the lodge site, but Verizon and Loon representatives suggested placement of the tower on the lodge would compromise worker safety and limit equipment storage options.

The report from IDK confirms Verizon's justification for wanting a tower on Loon Mountain. "There exists significant gaps in coverage in areas along Routes 112 and the Loon Mountain area," the report found. Of Verizon's proposed site for the tower, IDK suggests, "The site offers coverage of the gap areas" on the mountain and the highway.

Regarding the Governor's Lodge location, IDK first studied improvements offered by a tower 60 feet high. Such an option, the report notes, "does not provide the same level of coverage as the proposed site." However, an antenna height of 100 feet on the lodge "would provide similar coverage to the proposed site," according to IDK's analysis.

The IDK report provided the town input on the proposed backup generator for the cell tower. "The Town may wish to obtain specifications on this generator and the fuel storage to insure adequate protection from spills or leaks." IDK said the use of propane for the generator might be appropriate.

HEB Engineers sent the town another site report last week. Inadequate maps in the proposal, HEB concluded, made analysis of grading design and runoff issues difficult, the town was informed. "The Applicant should provide a drainage analysis that indicates pre- and post-development stormwater flows in the project area," HEB suggested.

Erosion control and the impact on downstream drainage systems are of particular interest to HEB, especially because the proposed tower would sit close to existing Loon ski trails. The North Conway firm "recommends that the board request a resubmission of the information outlined in this letter prior to entertaining an approval of the application," the report concludes.

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