Residents Like Their Smokestack, Shun Monopole Proposal

Vital statistics: three carriers generate $58k/yr for school

Last week, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in Concord, MA heard arguments by Bartkus Farm residents against a proposed 120-foot monopole – replacing a smokestack unit at the Middlesex School – citing aesthetic and proximity concerns. Residents questioned whether Industrial Communications, the company proposing the tower, had put enough effort into finding an alternative location.

According to Industrial Communications attorney Jeffrey Angley, the company studied eight possible locations for the tower and determined that the only suitable site is behind the Middlesex School ice hockey rink.

Wickedlocal.com reported that Industrial Communications is asking the ZBA to grant waivers on some local zoning bylaws, including placing a cell tower within 1,000 feet of a residence and no more than 20 feet above the tree line. The tower is intended to provide additional coverage at the Middlesex School, where a gap exists currently. Considering the proposed plans, the location plus the height of the tower above the tree line is optimal to provide better coverage.  

Angley told Wickedlocal.com that the closest the tower will get to a residential home is 600 feet and that the dense area of trees between the proposed site and Bartkus Farm will prevent residents from having a direct sightline to the tower. However, the average height of the trees is 75-feet, with the highest at 100-feet, and the tower will stand at 120-feet, in order to provide reliable service.

Currently, wireless providers Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T lease space on a smokestack, owned by the Middlesex School, to a tune of $58,000 per year. The proposed monopole would replace the smokestack and the three carriers could continue to lease space. The new infrastructure will better equip the carriers to have 24-hours/day access to their equipment.

Regardless of Industrial Communications’ reasoning, locals aren’t having it. Bartkus Farm residents suggested alternatives to the monopole construction. These included keeping the wireless equipment where it currently is at Middlesex School and locating the base unit and generators in another location, connecting the two with an underground fiber optic cable. Another option is considering a proposed 190-foot tower at the Banta-Davis Fields in Carlisle. That tower was already approved at this year’s Town Meeting in Carlisle and is a viable option for Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.

“We don’t want a cell tower that is within 1,000 feet of us,” Bartkus Farm resident Stuart Strong said. “We’re not opposed to a cell tower. However, there are other options.”

May 18, 2017

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