Buckland Planning Board approves three waivers for cell tower

  • Herb Guyette, Buckland and Shelburne fire chief, speaks at Tuesday’s cell tower hearing in Buckland Town Hall. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board at the second day of the cell tower hearing on Tuesday at Buckland Town Hall. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Buckland resident David Lenaerts voiced his concern about the height of the cell tower during Tuesday’s meeting using a poster he drew. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 7/13/2022 7:09:54 PM
Modified: 7/13/2022 7:09:39 PM

BUCKLAND — Following more comments in the second day of joint public hearings of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals concerning Vertex Tower Assets LLC’s proposed 150-foot cell tower, the Planning Board approved three waivers, with plans to continue discussion on July 26.

The first waiver allows Vertex to build the monopole wireless communication tower at 28 Martin Road despite not having a Federal Communications Commission license, which town bylaws require. This waiver was passed with the condition that Vertex has at least one lease agreement with a wireless company before construction begins.

This condition was suggested by Vertex’s attorney Francis Parisi, who noted that cellphone companies no longer build cell towers; instead, they lease space from companies like Vertex.

Two other waivers the Planning Board approved waive the initial requirements for radio frequency engineer and acoustical engineer inspections before construction. The board asserted that Vertex will not have a problem abiding by decibel and radiation requirements.

At the start of Tuesday’s hearing, Herb Guyette, Buckland and Shelburne fire chief, testified that it is dangerous to not have cellphone service along the Route 112 corridor. This would be the first cell tower in Buckland.

“The tower would give us what we need to be able to operate safely,” Guyette said. He asked for free usage of the tower for EMTs in the area, and Parisi said Vertex routinely grants this.

During the last hearing on July 7, there were concerns about the balloon test Vertex shared. Many residents and board members felt that the balloon was visible in areas where Parisi said it was not.

Vertex will now conduct a new balloon test on Saturday by flying a balloon up to 150 feet in the air and gauging the level of visibility. The lowest height will be at 90 feet. This is 10 feet above the tree line, the height that is in accordance with current bylaws for cell towers. A 150-foot cell tower would require a variance from the ZBA. Saturday’s demonstration will have a Planning Board member present.

The board was also concerned that the new Ashfield tower will have overlapping coverage with the proposed Buckland tower. Fred Goldstein, a consultant for the town, assured attendees the coverage is not overlapping.

Parisi was asked if there would be more towers built in Buckland.

“We are trying to cover as much as possible with this tower,” he responded. “We have nothing in the foreseeable future to make more sites.”

Buckland resident David Lenaerts voiced his concern about the height of the cell tower using a poster he drew for the meeting.

“This tower is 4.2 times the maximum height in our bylaws,” Lenaerts argued. “It is twice the height of Mary Lyon Church. I believe a structure this tall is out of place.”

Christopher Franceschelli, the owner of the land where the proposed tower would be constructed, spoke via Zoom.

“This tower will allow us in Buckland to work and be productive,” he said. “At first it will be a harsh intrusion, but it will eventually fade into the background.”

After comments, Parisi addressed the concerns.

“This is not perfect,” he said. “There will be some visibility. I have never built an invisible tower.”

Parisi also said many of the concerned residents hoped the company might consider other sites instead, but he assured the audience that Vertex looked at many possibilities to find the proposed site.

The joint meeting did not get through the entire agenda, and will continue on Tuesday, July 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall and over Zoom.

Contact Bella Levavi at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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