Conway cell tower public hearing to continue May 19

  • Attorney Francis Parisi hands out special permit supplements to the Conway Planning Board at Tuesday’s public hearing for a cell tower off of Route 116. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/11/2022 4:05:54 PM

CONWAY — The joint public hearing for the proposed cell tower on Route 116 will continue after the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals both opted to keep it open for another meeting.

Proposed by Wrentham-based Vertex Tower Assets LLC, which has several other towers built or approved in Franklin County, the 156-foot cell tower requires special permit approval from the Planning Board and a variance from the ZBA because Conway’s bylaws limit wireless towers to 120 feet. If approved, the tower would be built at 1356 Ashfield Road and would provide cell coverage on Route 116 into the center of town and parts of Ashfield.

“Why do we need a cell tower? I don’t know if I need to sell it,” said Attorney Francis Parisi, who is representing Vertex. “I think you guys all know there’s a lack of reliable wireless telecommunications along the 116 corridor.”

Fred Goldstein, a consultant for the town, said the cell tower would provide “90 houses with solid coverage,” while also providing partial coverage to other homes.

Parisi said the lack of wireless communications is “becoming a safety hazard” because “it’s a problem” when there’s an emergency and someone cannot call 911 due to a lack of service. Fire Chief Bob Baker echoed these claims, especially as his department has moved from using pagers to using an app called “IamResponding,” which sends dispatch calls to first responders’ cellphones.

“Anything you can do to help us, we’ll be very appreciative of,” Baker said.

The town’s bylaws also require the tower to be built by a licensed carrier. Parisi said Vertex is willing to agree to a condition delaying construction of the tower until a carrier is on board.

“Vertex is what we call a wireless infrastructure developer,” Parisi said. “We develop infrastructure that accommodates multiple telecommunications companies.”

Parisi said the tower will support 4G service and 5G, if and when it gets deployed in rural communities.

“What 5G and 4G stand for are for the generation of technology,” Parisi said. “It’s going to be a while before (5G) comes to Conway, Massachusetts because it’s just getting deployed in Boston, Dallas and New York.”

In a letter entered into the public record, Bill Burnett, owner of Burnett Farm on North Poland Road, said his property’s view will be affected by the tower, but the benefits of an additional cell tower would outweigh negative visual impacts.

“Our property will be the most visually impacted in this town,” Burnett’s letter reads. “We are in 100% favor of this cell tower. … I strongly urge the Planning Board and Zoning Board to approve this critical cell tower.”

With the Planning Board seeking more public comment as it mulls the special permit, the members, along with the ZBA, agreed to continue the hearing at May 19’s meeting on Zoom. The public comment period will begin at 8 p.m.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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