Williamstown Ponders New Cell Tower

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Residents in Williamstown, MA are carefully weighing all pros and cons before moving forward with plans for a 165-foot cell tower. As iBerkshires.com reports, a cell tower would address the problem of spotty reception around the area. However, the town administrators said they do not want to find themselves in an antagonistic situation and are bracing for potential reactions before any construction work begins.

The site selected by Evolution Towers for the AT&T cell tower is on private farmland. Balloon tests have demonstrated that a tower’s impact on the landscape would be minimal. The Zoning Board of Appeals must grant its approval to the project, and objectors are already letting the ZBA know they do not want to see the tower built.

“If enough roadblocks are put before the petitioner, eventually the carrier says, ‘Forget it,’ throws their hands up and walks away from the project,” ZBA Chairman, Andrew Hoar told iBerkshires.com. “But it is my understanding the carrier also gets a certain amount of pressure from the FCC to provide coverage in underserved areas. So, if not now, at some point, and I don’t know when, the federal government steps in and says, ‘There will be a tower here, and it will be this.'”

“This board has the ability to work with the petitioner and mitigate the impacts as much as possible. If it goes out of our hands and ends up in the courts, we lose that ability, and we get what we get,” added Hoar. “And it could be a 180-foot tower because somebody says, ‘That’s what we need.'”

All parties are reading up on what is and isn’t allowable in this situation. The town can point to its bylaws regarding zoning issues and historic preservation concerns, but Andrew Groff, the town’s zoning enforcement officer advised those attending the recent board meeting that phantom health concerns about RF radiation exposure could not be factored in. “I should remind the board, that’s not something you can take into consideration per FCC guidance and regulations,” he noted.

“The worst-case scenario is not that the carrier walks away, the worst case scenario is the carrier doesn’t walk away and takes the town to court,” said Board member, Rob Mathews. “It’s not Massachusetts state court, it’s federal court. And it isn’t pretty.” 

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