Ashfield cell tower hearing moved to October

ASHFIELD — A public hearing on a proposed 150-foot communications tower for Spruce Corner Road has been continued to Oct. 1, to give the developer, Industrial Tower and Wireless LLC, time to find out if the tower meets the Federal Communications Commission’s rules for environmental review.

Under the National Environmental Protection Act, new cell towers are not to be sited where there are endangered species or habitats, in officially designated wildlife preserves, on sites sacred to American Indian tribes, on wetlands or in flood plains, or where it will affect historic properties, sites, buildings or objects significant to American history.

The second session of a continued hearing drew an audience of between 40 and 50 people, many of them living on Spruce Corner Road. Although many present raised health questions about the proposed tower, the Planning Board determined that the application met all the criteria required by the town. The board has 150 days from the date the application was filed to vote on whether to give the developer a special permit. Planning Board Chairman Michael Fitzgerald said the town has about 120 days left.

Among concerns voiced by residents were worries that those living closest to the cell tower could face health problems from excessive electromagnetic radiation. Others worried that the view of the cell tower would reduce the value of their property.

Planning Board members said denying a permit on the basis of any health risk would not be accepted by the state, because it’s beyond the authority of the Planning Board.

Some in the audience wanted a more aesthetically pleasing structure than a galvanized steel monopole. Some suggested a New England-style silo or a pine tree, provided the tree blended in enough with the environment.

Several years ago, a cell tower was proposed for Peter’s Hill, then withdrawn by the applicant after Main Street residents complained loudly that such a tower would be seen throughout the town’s Historic District. When asked why the objections of Main Street residents counted more than those from Spruce Corner Road, Fitzgerald said the proposal had been withdrawn by the applicant — not rejected on any grounds by the Planning Board.

A 110-foot tower already exists on the site. It is used for radio communications by landowner Leonard Roberts for his lumber trucks, and it would be replaced for the taller tower. The added height is to enable up to five co-locators on the cell tower.

Currently, there are no cell towers built in Ashfield.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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