Resident-Generated Tower Bylaws Go Bye Bye

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Last week, Planning Board members refused to support a tower bylaw drafted by two residents. In an online meeting, the board questioned how the proposed nine-page draft differed from the half-page bylaw that exists in Ipswich, MA, reported the Gloucester Daily Times.

Shelly Bradbury and Kathleen Pennoyer drafted the proposal after Centerline Communications floated a plan earlier this year to erect a third tower in the area. Although Centerline has not submitted permits for the 200-foot tower, a balloon test was conducted.

Bradbury told the Times, “We want clear definitions for cell phone companies on things like gap coverage. We want regular EMF testing.”

She added, “We want to give the Planning Board the ability to hire independent consultants to study the effects of the tower in the area. We’re trying to say, ‘Other towns have it. Why isn’t it good for us too?'”

The Planning Board admitted that they didn’t have time to digest the proposal, receiving it just two days before the meeting. “It was a first step,” Bradbury said of the meeting. “I wanted them to hear it, ask questions, and think about these things and maybe come to compromises.” 

Planning Board Chairman Wes Burnham said he disagreed with some items in the proposal. One example is requiring companies to set up a commercial general liability insurance fund with a minimum of $5 million “for bodily injury or death/property damage arising out of any one occurrence.” Ipswich currently requires a $1 million escrow account for the same purpose, according to the Times

Ultimately, the bylaw changes require approval by vote at the Town Meeting, with the next one scheduled for October 3. The Planning Board decided to hold on voting and keep the document in their files, possibly discussing it at a later date, reported the Times.

Regarding Centerline’s proposed tower, some residents are concerned over aesthetic impacts in the downtown and how the structure will affect the skyline. Bradbury said of the tower, “It’s in the wrong place…on a scenic byway. When you have something that will affect a neighborhood and property values, what else can we do but fight?”

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