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Town blocks plans for towers

Following news that several wireless communication company representatives were in town scouting possible locations for cell phone towers last week, selectmen unanimously voted to place a moratorium on communication towers Monday. The moratorium prohibits all new towers, monopoles and tower-mounted wind turbines for the next 180 days.

MOUNT DESERT - Following news that several wireless communication company representatives were in town scouting possible locations for cell phone towers last week, selectmen unanimously voted to place a moratorium on communication towers Monday.

The moratorium prohibits all new towers, monopoles and tower-mounted wind turbines for the next 180 days.

Selectmen are not against communications towers, said chairman Patrick Smallidge, they merely need to time to consider how best to regulate them.

Interest in erecting the communication towers and wind turbines on private land has increased drastically in the last year. Although regulating communications towers is the town's primary concern, the inclusion of wind turbine towers in the discussion comes none too soon, said town manager Mike MacDonald.

"I had a serious inquiry about a wind turbine last week," he told selectmen.

Currently, the town has no regulatory language for communications towers. An ordinance regulating such towers has been in the works for some time, but the increase in the frequency of recent requests led selectmen to act quickly.

"If we didn't do anything and suddenly a 190 foot tower... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

MOUNT DESERT - Following news that several wireless communication company representatives were in town scouting possible locations for cell phone towers last week, selectmen unanimously voted to place a moratorium on communication towers Monday.

The moratorium prohibits all new towers, monopoles and tower-mounted wind turbines for the next 180 days.

Selectmen are not against communications towers, said chairman Patrick Smallidge, they merely need to time to consider how best to regulate them.

Interest in erecting the communication towers and wind turbines on private land has increased drastically in the last year. Although regulating communications towers is the town's primary concern, the inclusion of wind turbine towers in the discussion comes none too soon, said town manager Mike MacDonald.

"I had a serious inquiry about a wind turbine last week," he told selectmen.

Currently, the town has no regulatory language for communications towers. An ordinance regulating such towers has been in the works for some time, but the increase in the frequency of recent requests led selectmen to act quickly.

"If we didn't do anything and suddenly a 190 foot tower popped up at the end of Somes Sound, we'd be hearing about it," said Mr. MacDonald. "I think the board is acting prudently and proactively."

In light of the increasing number of inquiries, town officials are working to balance the competing interests of those who would like to see increased cell phone reception in the town and those who view cell phone towers as unsightly eyesores, he said.

While discussing the moratorium with attorney James Collier, selectmen raised concerns that the move could be misinterpreted.

"We're not looking to prevent you from putting up your TV antenna," said selectmen Rick Mooers.

In order to clarify several issues, modifications such as specifically banning commercial towers and towers over 40 feet tall were suggested, as was an exception for Internet communication towers.

"A moratorium is a blunt instrument," said Mr. Collier, advising selectmen to apply their concerns to the language of the ordinance.

Should the moratorium be approved at town meeting, the planning board has 180 days from Feb. 9 to draft an ordinance. If the board cannot draft appropriate language by Aug. 8, it may apply for one extension of 180 days, which would place the drop-dead deadline for the ordinance language on Feb. 9 of next year.

It is likely that that extension will be filed, said Mr. Smallidge. "We probably won't have that language until next fall."

The companies now scouting sites for communications towers generally erect the structures and then contract their usage to a variety of service providers, said Mr. MacDonald. The moratorium was put in place so that town officials could coordinate the town's oversight of such towers that could effect the town's scenic landscape, he said. The moratorium will not be applied to any applications pending with the planning board. If it passes muster with residents at town meeting in May, it will be retroactively applied as of Feb. 9.


Source: http://mdislander.com/site/...

FEB 13 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19057-town-blocks-plans-for-towers
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