Gilford cell phone users may get more carrier options

May 06, 2009
Cell phone users in Gilford may soon have more options for their wireless services.

Residents who have traveled by Mount Rowe near Gunstock may have noticed the large tower on its peak. Crown Castle, the company that owns and maintains that tower and communication center, met with the Zoning Board of Adjustment last week to request a special exemption for the construction of one new tower.

"They are looking to replace the old tower," said Linda Connell, attorney representing Crown Castle. "What they are proposing is a replacement structure. The land will, at least on a temporary basis, need to have two buildings."

The company needs to do an assessment of the structure before adding additional weight to the tower with building. A special exemption is required even if the company has the physical space to build. The company is looking to add an additional 60 by 60 foot area to the communication center and add four feet onto the tower. This will allow more carriers to be added onto the tower in the future.

"The company is in the business of providing the base and renting the space for carriers to use towers," said Connell. "It is the preference of the town that the carriers are consolidated on one tower. We understand you want to be able to serve your citizens, and good cell phone reception can be imperative in an emergency."

There is a demand for more carriers at that location and the company expects to have the project completed, in the worst case scenario, in six months, but likely sooner. There will be a chain link safety fence erected to keep hikers out of the construction zone. The construction would require the removal of two existing towers and the building of one 182-foot tower with 24 antennas and an equipment shelter.

The ZBA asked the company to make sure that the administrators of the airport were able to look at the plans and make sure the higher tower would not interfere would plans landing and taking off. Castle Crown assured the ZBA the tower would be suitable lit for the planes passing overhead.

"We have had issues before with the FAA and the airport not talking to each other," said Scott Davis, member of the ZBA. "We want to make sure we have all of our ducks in a row."

The ZBA approved the request for an exemption after review of the proposed design and making sure to stipulate the airport would get the chance to look at the plans in the motion to accept them.

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