“Can You Put That Tower BELOW the Tree Line?”

Boston-based Blue Sky Towers LLC is seeking to build a 150-foot tall tower within a 100-by-100-foot patch of land near the Mashpee Fire Station. The tower aims to extend cell service into areas of southern Mashpee where inconsistent, or non-existent coverage has bred frustration and safety concerns among residents, reported The Mashpee Enterprise. The tower will host carriers Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, with room for two more carriers to co-locate.

At a recent Cape Cod Commission subcommittee hearing on the proposed tower, Town Manager Rodney C. Collins commented on the need for better safety communication. “Since I became [town] manager in 2015, I don’t know of any issue that’s drawn more passion than folks at their homes, going out to the beach or going out for a walk and not being able to reach public safety officials,” said Collins.

Although the tower has much support, the project is still being questioned by many residents. Since the tower will be visible to certain homeowners in the area, residents voiced concerns regarding aesthetic appeal, its impact on their property values and on their health, reported the Enterprise.

Residents asked if the tower could be moved to a different location or if the height could be lowered to sit below tree lines. “Is there a sweet spot [on] the parcel that might minimize impacts for everyone? We don’t have an answer for that,” said David Maxson, the commission’s consultant, but noted it was something the commission could ask Blue Sky to explore.

Regarding tower height, Maxson and carrier representatives stated that as the tower gets lower, the quality of coverage diminishes. This will be especially true for carriers whose antennas will be placed lower on the pole. Presenters also recommended camouflaging the tower with paint or erecting a monopine to address aesthetic concerns.

Where health concerns were involved, Maxson, who is a member of the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety, noted health risks will play no role in either the commission or the town’s decision-making process due to the 1996  Telecommunications Act.

Maxson added, “There’s a lot of scary stuff on the internet but there’s a really strong basis for the safety standards.”

Regarding next steps, another public hearing has been scheduled. Additionally, the subcommittee can request further information from the applicant and will make a recommendation to the full commission. If the commission votes in favor, the company will begin the special permit process with the planning board, reported the Enterprise.

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September 11, 2018

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