Battle of Ballardvale Over American Tower Pole

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Residents of Ballardvale, MA are pushing back against American Tower’s proposal to erect a 125-foot cell tower in an industrially zoned area near the town’s historical district to improve T-Mobile service in the area. According to The Andover Townsman, American Tower offered Andover Public Safety use of the pole for EMS communications at no charge to sweeten the deal for the city, but Selectman Alex Vispoli balked at the suggestion, telling The Andover Townsman, “I don’t know the ethics on that being that a town board has to approve this.”

While T-Mobile will be the lead tenant on the proposed pole, attorney Edward Pare, who represents American Tower, said that the tower would ideally house equipment for all major carriers, as well as the city’s police and fire departments.

Residents who live near the historic district are gravely concerned about the tower’s potential impacts on the aesthetic beauty and property values in the historic district.  “People are violently opposed to cell towers,” Ed Sullivan, who lives in a condominium in the sight line of the proposed tower, said.  

Another resident, Linda Stevenson, told The Andover Townsman that the tower simply isn’t needed, as she and her neighbors have first-rate service that doesn’t need to be improved. Stevenson lamented that she would be able to see the proposed tower from her back deck. “I think to stick a tower of this height in the middle of a historic district is absolutely horrendous,” she said.

Preparing residents for the visual impact of the tower is the next step for this project. “I think it is critical here that the community understand how large 125 feet is,” Selectman Vispoli said. To that end, the city has an eight-hour balloon test planned for March 3, which will allow residents to imagine what the tower will eventually look like once in place.

February 19, 2018

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