GILFORD — Responding to concerns expressed by homeowners on David Lewis Road, New Cingular Wireless PCS, doing business as AT&T, last night proposed an alternative site for a cellular telephone antenna the firm originally planned to erect on the southeast corner of a 148-acre tract, where it would have overlooked the residential neighborhood.
Following a brief hearing this week both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment agreed to defer consideration of the proposal until March 17 when the firm will return with a revised plan for the project.
Originally AT&T applied to erect a 100-foot monopole tower with 12 antennas on a site including an equipment shelter, 12-feet by 20-feet, and emergency generator within a 50-square compound surrounded by chain link fence six-feet high and topped with barbed wire on land owned by Traditional Catholics of New Hampshire. A driveway leading from the southwest corner of David Lewis Road would provide access to the tower. The tower would stand 100 feet from the property line of two adjoining lots, one a house lot at 38 David Lewis Road owned by Kevin Lacasse and the other a vacant 5.27-acre parcel reached from Stark Street owned by Roger Baron, both of whom openly opposed the proposal. Although the tower would not be as close to the homes at 48 and 50 David Lewis Road, the slope of the land would make it very visible from much of both properties.
After considering three other locations, Will Dodge, representing AT&T, told the boards that the most suitable alternative would be to erect the tower on a in a thickly wooded section of the Traditional Catholics of New Hampshire property about 500 feet off Stark Street and 500 feet east of an easement strung with transmission lines held by Public Service of New Hampshire that runs northeast across the tract between Stark Street and Lakeshore Road (Route 3). He said that the tower would be 550 feet from the nearest residence to the east and 750 feet from the nearest residence to the west, which is on the opposite side of the street.
However, Dodge explained that since the elevation at the alternative site in 702 feet, compared to 755 feet at the original location, the height of the tower would have to be raised from 100 feet to 150 feet. He said the tree canopy around the proposed site is between 60 feet and 80 feet. Although an initial survey indicates that the tower would be visible from much of the length of Stark Street, Dodge said that most of the homes face south rather than at the site of the tower.
Unlike the original location, which was in the commercial zone, the alternative site is in the single family residential zone, where cellular towers are not a permitted use. Consequently, in addition to a special exception, which is required of all cellular towers regardless of their location, AT&T will also require a variance.
Both Lacasse and Julie Baron welcomed the decision to seek a different location for the tower. However, residents of Stark Street, who did not express concerns about the original proposal, have yet to be heard from. Dodge said that next month a balloon test will be conducted at the site that will indicate how visible the tower would be from different surrounding locations.