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Planning Board looks at two cell tower permit renewals

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HARVARD — Twice in one night the Planning Board was asked to consider permit renewals for cell phone towers. The board also considered requesting antenna space on a cell tower for dedicated emergency use.

Ken Adams, representing Omnipoint Holdings Inc. and T-Mobile, met with the board during its June 16 meeting to present both a special permit renewal and a permit modification request for its antennas and related equipment on the cell tower at 60 Old Shirley Road. Adams explained that they did not own the tower itself but still needed the permit to rent space for antennas.

The original special permit allowed for the installation of nine antennas. T-Mobile currently has three of those antennas installed and was seeking to replace those three with newer antennas and add three more, while still falling three antennas short of the original amount permitted. The modification request entails replacing the current equipment cabinet, on the ground below the tower, with a slightly larger one. This would require a one-foot increase in the concrete pad that supports the cabinet.

Questions asked about the changes included the affect on the view, potential additional noise and any structural impact on the tower due to the increased weight. Adams responded that the noise level should remain approximately the same and that there would be additional camouflage to compensate for the additional antennas. As for the structural impact on the tower, Adams pointed out that the original tower had been designed to accommodate nine antennas and would still only have six.

Board chairman Joseph Sudol asked about acquiring free space on the cell tower for municipal use. Adams said he could not speak specifically to the issue, as T-Mobile was renting space on the tower and did not own it, but said that current owners would most likely accommodate the town, if asked. The board voted to close the public portion of the hearing and continued the hearing to July 7 at 8:45 p.m. for a decision.

Also that night, the board met with attorney Daniel Klasnick on behalf of STC Five LLC, an entity created by Sprint to manage cell towers, and Global Signal Acquisitions LLC, to request a renewal of a special permit for the cell tower at 47 Poor Farm Road. Sudol observed that this was strictly a renewal of the permit, with no changes.

Since Klasnick was representing the owner of the tower, as opposed to the prior applicant who was renting space on a tower, Sudol asked what criteria there is for a town to use the tower for municipal emergency services. Klasnick could only answer in general terms but said the main restriction would be physical space available on the tower.

Sudol commented that the town would not want to interfere with existing users or violate the board’s own decisions regarding cell towers. The board voted to continue the hearing to July 7 at 8:30 p.m.

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