Cohasset Selectmen Vote in Favor of New Access Road

The vote on the Bear Hill / Scituate Hill Water Tank Cell Tower Access Road (Pleasant Street through Reservoir Road access) was unanimous.

The discussion went into the wee hours of March 2.

Quigley wanted to include mitigation verbiage in a motion brought forth by Fred Koed, but water commissioners assured her it was in the contract.

According to the Request for Proposal:

At&T proposes to conceal its ground equipment within a 10’x20’ equipment shelter, within a 25’x40’ fenced compound. The plan indicates proposed landscaping, safety and stealth or camouflage techniques to minimize the visual impact to the neighborhood. The tank is already surrounded by trees, providing a natural vegetative cover for ground equipment. Also, it would provide calculations and documentation relative to an emissions with respect to the nearest habitable dwelling, located approximately 100 feet from the Bear Hill/Scituate Hill Water tanks.

Koed’s motion called for the selectmen to approve service road access, via a Reservoir Road access, to be no more than 20 feet wide, over a town-owned parcel of land. That new service road would connect with the existing Pleasant Street access.

On the advice of Water Commissioner Glen Pratt, selectmen will ask water commissioners, the police chief and the schools, to deliberate over the scheduling of truck traffic on the access road. Selectmen will approve the final access road schedule. Pratt noted that this might be a difficult schedule to adhere to during construction. Water commissioners noted that AT&T will pay for the construction of the road which the Town will be expected to maintain. If AT&T were to ever damage the road, it would be their responsibility to fix the damage.

A Safety Study done on Dec. 22 by professional engineer said the new road would not add significant traffic. Subsequently, it will offer some cell phone owners, AT&T and Verizon customers, new service. There are currently three cell towers in Cohasset. The Bear Hill Water Tank, with cell phone appendages, would be considered to be an installation of antennae on an existing facility. It would not be considered to be a cell tower, according to Peter DeCaprio.

Water commissioners noted that they had already spent $18,000 on a lawsuit from abutters regarding the new Reservoir Road access on town-owned property.

Neighbor Elsa Miller said the project was a commercial one, and it was not a permitted use in a residence B district. “It needs a special permit,” she said, adding that market value of properties would decline. Later in the evening the town auditor noted that home sales in Cohasset were down 25%. Again, water commissioners noted that the facility would not be considered a cell tower.

Selectman Candidate Mary Snow said she felt the issue should be on the ballot.

Former Selectman Ronnie McMorris said “The board of selectmen do not have the responsibility to provide telecommunications. Leave the access road on Pleasant Street, stay out of this business. It’s not your business.”

Former Selectman Martha Gjesteby said she was worried about radio waves from the project and wondered if this project would affect any high school expansion.

Quigley noted that the town could not legally deny cell communications for health reasons.

Water commissioners said they were leasing their water tower to telecommunications businesses and that they were not getting involved in the telecommunications business. In response to neighbors who threatened to apply for tax abatements, commissioners said:

“If you can see the tank today, you will see the antenna. If you can’t see the tank, you won’t see the antenna. The footprint is small and the area is largely cleared. We already have an existing access road, which has not affected home sales.”

© Copyright 2011 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed