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Scituate Zoning Board of Appeals, October 4, 2010
Scituate Zoning Board of Appeals
The Scituate Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing on October 4, 2010 at the Scituate High School auditorium located at 606 Chief Justice Cushing Highway, Scituate. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 P.M.
The first application was read into the record: AT&T C/O Brown Rudnick LLP, 121 South Main, Providence, RI requests variance from Section 540 (A) (3) (6) of the Town of Scituate Zoning Bylaws to the extent required and any and all relief required to the extent necessary to install, operate and maintain a wireless communication tower at 361 Tilden Road.
Documentation included in the file:
Attorney Edward D. Pare, Jr., Esq. of Brown Rudnick LLP representing the petitioner AT&T Mobility.
Peter Morin opened the hearing. Mr. Morin went over a few procedural issues. The reason why the Board was hearing this application was because a variance was required outside the wireless district. He questioned whether the Planning Board had jurisdiction outside the wireless district and would leave it up to the applicant to decide whether they would need to file with the Planning Board. One of the principle points that would be addressed was issues related to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The applicant will address whether there is a gap of coverage in the area and they will address whether there were other alternatives to cover the lack of coverage.
Mr. Morin introduced the applicant.
Attorney Edward Pares- introduced his team. The site was in the A2 Zoning District and they were taking the position that the Planning Board does not have jurisdiction. They had a meeting prior with the Town Planner and Building Official. They were applying to the ZBA because they have the ability to grant the relief. There is case law from Wayland and Swansea (see file). They would also be going through all of the standards for a special permit and would demonstrate to the Board how they meet these standards. Mr. Pares stated that AT&T determined they had a need in the area; they then hired a firm to find potential sites and the consultant did locate 29 sites. The applicant entered into a lease agreement with the property owner at 361 Tilden Road. AT&T was planning on installing a 150’ monopole with twelve antennas and they would fence and screen the site from Tilden Road. The pole would be located on the west side of property about 290-feet from the closest resident. The access would be the existing driveway using a gravel driveway off of that and all the electrical line would be underground. There would be room for four other providers to add equipment to the pole. It would be designed to grow if other providers decide to hop on as well. Attorney Pares summarized the relief requested. Their consultant flew a balloon test on August 26, 2010, which the results were sent to the Zoning Board (see file). They have received numerous letters from the abutters. They have also received a report from Mark Hutchins (see file) the consultant hired by the Town. Attorney Pares stated that they may not be able to make the October 25, 2010 meeting.
Peter Morin- Would like to end the hearing by 10:00 P.M.
Edward Pares- they will provide electronic copies of some of the reports.
Jobet Mariano - was the site engineer for AT&T and gave a presentation on the areas of cellular coverage in the area of Tilden Road and why they choose the site on Tilden Road. There was a lack of coverage in the Shore Acres, Egypt Beach and Sand Hills sections of Town. He explained how they did their research and determined coverage needs. He also explained how they performed a dry test, which determined where the lack of coverage areas were. They were able to address coverage in the Egypt Beach, Sandhills, Shore Acres and some parts of the Country Way areas. They have a gap in coverage that covers about two miles. They were trying to maintain frequency within homes. AT&T is not providing adequate coverage in these areas, but if the tower and antennas were installed they would be able to provide coverage for these areas.
Peter Morin- went through the other AT&T sites within the Town (see file). He asked about how they researched the height of the tower and how data was analyzed to determined whether the gap was significant or not.
Jobet Mariano - They were trying to provide coverage to both the year round and summer residents. They do have population data and drop call data.
Peter Morin- they would like to see that information.
Brian Sullivan- asked if they had conversations with their marketing department.
Brian Sullivan- explained that AT&T had a tool on their website where you could put your address in and it would tell you if there was adequate reception at that location, which was contradicting his testimony.
Peter Morin- how were the guidelines determined.
Jobet Mariano - it was based on usability within the homes.
Brian Sullivan- had the standards changed.
Jobet Mariano - since 2001 they have not changed. The signal strength has not changed even though phones have gotten more sophisticated. The number of users does not effect how many sites were needed.
Brian Sullivan- asked if they would be looking at a 12G system someday.
Joba Mariano- yes, someday.
Edward Pares- they would like to deal with the service issues only.
Brian Sullivan- this was the first cell tower application the Board has seen in a few years.
Peter Morin- asked about capacity. Each time a G level is added it taxes the current facility. Asked if AT&T would be building more facilities to meet coverage needs.
Edward Tibbetts- will they ever have full coverage for a community like Scituate.
Jobet Mariano- it will cover the sites he mentioned but not for the entire Town.
Brian Sullivan- asked about booster towers.
Jobet Mariano – believed another a company tried to do this.
Edward Pares- a Dass company tried to this, but Dass is extremely expensive; usually a company will try to get a few other companies to sign on to cover the cost. They do not give robust coverage for the cost. They basically would need a repeater to cover all road ways, but would not supply coverage into the buildings.
Sara Trezise- would like the second colored map they had. Was this drawn to include the alternative sites that they looked at.
Peter Morin- asked about the height of the tower.
Jobet Mariano - 150’ was the best height to provide coverage for the areas that were lacking in coverage.
Edward Pares- the goal was to try and be respectful of the Zoning Bylaw. They located a tower in what they felt was a good site. There was no site located in the Towns overlay district that would provide for this area.
Peter Morin- the Board had the responsibilities of deciding what is good for the neighborhood.
Edward Pares- the purpose of the 1996 Act was not to put towers everywhere. The whole business was being driven by competition. No other carries have had contact with AT&T to come aboard, but in his experience they come after the Tower is built. The height of tree canopy was averaged at about 70 feet.
Morin- wanted to know about the designs of the pole.
Edward Pares- AT&T felt that a 150’ foot flag pole would not work at this site. Clearwater uses a dish to attach to a pole, which he felt looked funny. They would be open to discussing these options.
Sara Trezise- asked what height would they need to be at to get adequate coverage.
Jobet Mariano- about 120-130 feet. Lower heights would be more sensitive to lower frequencies. This needs to go above the tree lines to be affective. They tend to have losses of coverage from the trees and leaves. In the winter the coverage tends to be better when the leaves are off the trees.
Sara Trezise- could they move the tower on the site.
Edward Pares- with the permission of the property owner, but they located it at that particular location to a keep it away from the closest neighbors.
Sara Trezise- addressed an email from an abutter who felt that the location would be 100- feet from the vacant part of their lot, which they were hoping to build on someday.
Edward Pares- these issues were part of the discussion. If they need to shift it they would be willing to talk to the land owners about it. With everything there was a trade off and if they moved it there would be another set of abutters who would complain about the location.
Sara Trezise- wanted to address point four of Mr. Mariano’s report (see file).
Edward Pares- the only thing not provided for were the dry test results. He did provide this to the Towns consultants Mr. Hutchins. He would make sure it was submitted to the official record.
Mr. Demetriades of 10 Elaine Court- asked about the Federal law regarding transmittal equipment. In order to get this approval, does the applicant have to get a variance and without that variance will they have to seek another site.
Peter Morin- the Board has five members three of which are voting members.
Gail Mullen-Black of 11 Windward Way- asked how far the tower will cover.
Jobet Mariano - it will cover a two mileage coverage area.
Bill Schmidt of 33 Egypt Beach Road- asked when the public could speak.
Peter Morin- the applicant gets to present their application, the Board would like to ask their questions and then the public can ask questions.
Liz Gallagher of 42 Egypt Beach Road- asked if the two miles go out to the ocean. Felt there was an awful lot of coverage towards the ocean
Jobet Mariano- they need to use a certain height and coverage to send out the signal in a certain area.
Edward Pares- because there is no buildings or trees blocking the ocean.
Liz Gallagher- felt the spot was not ideal.
Brian Johnson of 8 Windward Way- asked about customer complaints.
Edward Pares- would provide this info.
Edward Tibbetts- asked about the yellow on the map and was more concerned with the area over the purple area.
Brian Sullivan- asked if they could direct a transmitter.
Jobet Mariano- they are trying to address this. They need a direct signal for this.
Ray Bower of 3 Hickory Lane- asked why they cannot get the low lying areas at the height they were building.
Jobet Mariano- if they go to high they will not be able to address the costumers they were trying to target.
Edward Pares- residents are hard to count. There were many people who visit people and the beaches in Scituate.
Brian Sullivan- all the beaches have adequate coverage in the car.
Robin Glazier of 26 Persimmon Avenue- asked about the alternative site that AT&T looked at.
Sara Trezise- several emails addressed the noise concerns.
Edward Pares- there would be no generator which is usually what causes the noise. They will have an a/c unit in the equipment sheds.
Peter Morin- would like a noise analysis.
Edward Pares- they would provide this.
Bill Schmidt of 33 Egypt Beach Road- asked how many sheds they would have per antenna.
Edward Pares- AT&T is providing a shed with movable walls so they could add more carriers or they could add their own sheds.
Brian Sullivan- the site plan shows five at two hundred forty feet as dotted lines.
Edward Pares- they don’t all use that size, some are smaller that that. Five probably would not be all in one shed.
Frank Murphy of 12 Windward Lane- how much of the height based on the other carries. Is this a profit generated proposal.
Edward Pares- there would be revenue sharing. They have a burden to prove and that is what they are here for.
Frank Murphy of 12 Windward- the future means a lot more towers that are shorter the more G units are created.
Bill Zehan- his report was at tab 6. The process is driven by the engineers who discover the need and provide them a circle on the map of where need coverage is located. His job was to go out and find a location that is suitable. They look for existing towers and other tall structure such as smoke stacks or buildings. Next they look for raw land sites and an overlay districts. In this case there wasn’t anything within the overlay district that was suitable for their requirements. Next they examine the municipal sites which they gave a list of sites to the Town for which the Town declined. They then turned to look for a private sites. The search location was densely populated and they had very few choices. They ended up at a site that they would rather not use but it was all they had. This was not their first choice, but it turned out to be a feasible choice from an RFP standpoint.
Edward Pares- addressed the Sept 29th letter. Sometimes the municple sites are the roads easiest traveled, but the Town was not interested. One of their top sites was the Wampatuck School.
Peter Morin- there was a response from someone he couldn’t remember who that mentioned there was one letter that addressed this issue.
Edward Pares- they initially met with Laura Hartbottle and Neil Duggan and also discussed it at a later time with the Town officials.
Brian Sullivan- asked if there were any other elementary schools that have these cell towers.
Edward Pares- they do it all the time.
Peter Morin- mentioned that he had spoken with the Town Administrator and she stated that the Wampatuck School was off the table. He asked what “other” sites were mentioned in their report and where were they located. If the Town had an epiphany and realized that they could entertain an RFP, would AT&T be interested in this site.
Edward Pares- until a site becomes available to them they will be pursuing Tilden Road site.
Peter Morin- so they were saying it needs to be available at the time the Board votes on this application.
Edward Pares- was looking further down the road if an alternative did come available they would entertain this idea. The Wampatuck School was their number one site.
Brian Sullivan- asked Mr. Morin if it was off the table completely.
Peter Morin- stated he could not read the minds of the people in charge
Sara Trezise- Neil Duggan’s letter stated that the sites were out of the overlay district. So was the Tilden Road site.
Edward Pares- they asked the Town if there was any other sites they would entertain. The RFP time frames were longer, but the Towns could shorten that process.
Peter Morin- asked about the Town owned land known as 0 Tilden Road.
Edward Tibbetts- this lot was ranked as a number 6 on their list. Could this work for their purposes?
Dan Biaziki - that is an RFP question.
Jobet Mariano - they didn’t look at it because the Town said no.
Dan Balski- they need to know what sites were in play.
Peter Morin- by the end of this week could they give a list of what sites they would entertain.
Edward Pares- they would like to know the site of the DPW highway barn at Dreamwald and Captain Pierce.
Peter Morin- will go to the appropriate Town Official’s to see if this is feasible.
Brian Sullivan- felt they should put one at Wampatuck, Hatherly and Jenkins.
Peter Morin- asked if there was anyone in the audience who knows of a municipal site.
Steven Tooker of 397 Tilden Road- mentioned another piece of land near Woodward Road near the DPW Highway yard.
Joba Mariano - they are trying to get as close as they could to Egypt Beach and Shore Acres.
Peter Morin- asked to run an RFP at 180’ at that site.
Christopher Heep- he suggested an alternative approach, he felt it would be helpful to look at the other four sites.
Edward Pares- the other four municipal sites all work but the Town said they were out of play.
Bill Shimt of 33 Egypt Beach Road- was Neil Duggan aware of this Act.
Edward Pares- they wrote to the Town not the Building Inspector.
Peter Morin- it came from the Town Administrator.
Brian Sullivan- the school committee did not manage the property the Town Administrator did.
Peter Morin- wanted to address the McLaughlin property that was right in the middle of their target area. Goggle map showed it as a larger piece of property with fewer neighbors near it.
Edward Pares- it was rejected because it was out of the target site.
Peter Morin- in 1998 it was subject to litigation. They were proposing a cell tower at 185- feet by NEXTEL.
Dan Ouellette of 44 Amy’s Way- he was troubled with the municipal sites definitive “no”. He felt the Town should be looking at these sites, but was not interested in pitting neighborhoods against neighborhoods. He requested more info on the municipal sites.
Chris Heep- his clients were involved in the Nextel litigation.
Peter Morin- asked if they have spoken with Mr. Costello
Dan Biaziki- Mr. Costello did contact him and expressed an interest.
Peter Morin- felt that the applicant needs to pursue these avenues.
Christopher Heep- a number of his comments have been superseded by the Boards questions. He addressed his letter submitted to the (see file). Where in the file did AT&T address where the coverage objective to be. He felt this should be part of the public records. The applicant should not stop at the letter from the Building Inspector and would like the applicant to focus on the alternative municipal sites. He also noted that Mr. Hutchin’s report does not suggest alternative sites for the AT&T to look at. He felt the Board should insure that they get this from their pier review.
Peter Morin- he just submitted an email where the consultant acknowledges this and will have it by the next meeting.
Chris Heep- addressed the variance requirements and felt the applicant had not met this requirement.
Peter Morin- asked about there balloon test scheduled for later in the month. He asked if they were willing to delay this until the leaves were off the trees.
Edward Pares- the sole purpose of the second balloon test was to schedule something for the weekend. He would speak to AT&T about it. If they foresee that the hearing will go another month or two they may be willing to reschedule it.
Edward Pares- would like everyone to read the letter that they sent to the Town. On the request of the variance setback request from Attorney Heep, there lease was at the property located at 361 Tilden Road with an 80-foot setback.
Peter Morin- would like additional sales information on monopoles over similar heights on the south shore.
George Valentine - will provide this information at the next hearing.
Sullivan moved to adjourn at 10:30 P.M., seconded by Trezise, all in favor, unanimous.
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