Buckland Planning Board finds cell tower application satisfies requirements; discussion to continue Aug. 17

  • Buckland Planning Board members discuss a proposed cell tower at Town Hall on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 8/12/2022 3:55:50 PM

BUCKLAND — Although the Planning Board found that Vertex Tower Assets LLC’s special permit application to build a proposed 150-foot cell tower satisfied many of the requirements, the board did not make a decision Thursday on whether to allow the full height of the tower.

During a three-hour meeting at Town Hall, Planning Board members avoided the height discussion and instead consulted each town bylaw to see if Vertex satisfied the general requirements.

“We have not granted them the authority to build the tower. We just found that all the information they provided was right for the special permit process,” Planning Board Co-Chair Jon Wyman said in an interview following the meeting. “We have one more meeting to discuss the height and appearance.”

This was the fourth meeting about the cell tower proposed for 28 Martin Road. The first three meetings included public comment, but the period for comment was closed at the last meeting. If approved, the cell tower would be Buckland’s first.

The board discussed several bylaws that Vertex’s application clearly met or obtained variances for, but there were several bylaws that were phrased so generally that board members had trouble deciding if the application aligned with the bylaws.

“Because these are general, wide-ranging questions, there is no conclusive answer,” Planning Board Co-Chair John Gould said. “We have to look at all these questions in the aggregate to see if it fails or succeeds.”

Some bylaws the board discussed state the applicant must be “compatible with the neighborhood character” and must “minimize adverse effects on cultural resources.”

Planning Board member Andrea Donlon said the character of Buckland is “rural, agricultural and scenic.” She noted that Vertex’s special permit application states the cell tower is designed to minimize its visibility as much as possible. Having better cellphone reception, she said, would be favorable despite any visual impact.

Wyman contended, “The town’s character varies,” pointing to the other side of town that includes the Iron Bridge, a hydro-electric mill and gas stations.

There was discussion that the tower would detract from the Route 112 scenic byway. While the tower is visible from the road, it is more than 300 feet away, so it does not fall into the purview of the byway.

Another bylaw states there needs to be an increase in tax revenue as a result of the project. Donlon said there is no standard for Buckland, given that this is the first proposed cell tower, so the tax collector is unsure what the tax revenues would be from the tower. Still, Donlon assured the board that the tower would be considered an asset and be taxed in some way.

The Planning Board also discussed a request from emergency personnel to place antennas on the tower without charge. Vertex agreed to the request. The antennas need to be placed 5 feet away from other cell carrier antennas.

The next Planning Board meeting will take place Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 6 p.m. The meeting will start with Approval Not Required (ANR) applications, and the cell tower discussion will continue at 6:30 p.m. Gould noted that because the Planning Board has one vacancy, the board’s decision must be unanimous to allow the tower to be built.

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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