Cape Elizabeth planners advance Wells Road cell tower proposal

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Planning Board deemed an application for a proposed Wells Road telecommunications tower complete on Nov. 21. 

The board also approved an application from Kevin O’Donovan to construct a 35-foot private road – to be named Edgecomb Way – to create access to a new lot at the rear of 75 Ocean House Road. 

The tower owned by Crown Castle Towers LLC – a Virginia-based wireless infrastructure provider – is slated to be built on property owned by Jordan Farm at 19 Wells Road. 

According to a Nov. 15 memorandum from Sebago Technics to Town Planner Maureen O’Meara, the proposed 180-foot tower facility will be a 5,600-square-foot equipment compound enclosed by an 8-foot tall chain-link fence.

The board found Crown Castle’s application complete, except for a survey of the 67-acre parcel, which was partially complete. 

Most of the access to the tower will fall within the footprint of the existing gravel road, with the exception of the short section near the actual compound. The board recommended an analysis of the new portion of the road to determine the possible impacts from stormwater drainage before granting a resource protection permit.

On Tuesday, Lucas Anthony, of Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineers, said that information will be provided soon.

Residents in nearby neighborhoods expressed concerns about the number of towers being proposed in town, noting that in September the board also approved Tower Specialist’s application for a 180-foot telecommunications tower at 14 Strout Road. 

Robert Robinson on Tuesday said the Wells Road tower is less than 500 feet from the tower that would be on Strout Road.

“I don’t see (another tower) as a necessity,” Robinson said.

Board member James Huebener said there is likely to be a race to completion by the developers, and the application that comes in second probably won’t be pursued.

O’Meara said her understanding was that the board would consider each application separately in order to be fair, and simply review each for completeness.

Board member Josef Chalat reminded the public that Tuesday’s meeting was only to discuss the completeness of Crown Castle’s application and not the tower itself.

Nat Bessey, an attorney with Brann and Isaacson, was hired to represent neighbors Jeff and Sonya Gorman of Peppergrass Road.

Bessey said the application was incomplete and urged the board to wait until all information is provided to deem it complete. According to Bessey, an application requirement for a telecommunications tower is to provide information that would demonstrate compliance with tower performance standards.

“Specifically information regarding coverage before and after,” he added. “There was no coverage map provided that shows coverage before and after in context of the networks of any given carrier.”

He added that, so far, a list of coverage providers that would use the tower has not been submitted. 

“I feel obligated to say … the Town Council has made it clear that they are trying to improve cell coverage in town,” O’Meara said. 

Other residents noted concerns about the visual impact the tower might have. 

Matt Campbell, of Tiger Lilly Lane, said he would like to see photos of the proposed tower during colder months when trees are bare and the tower would be most visible. 

Francis Tighe, of Peppergrass Road, echoed Campbell’s comments.

“The visual impact of this proposed tower isn’t only important to the people that live in … neighborhoods along Spurwink Avenue, but this is a part of Cape Elizabeth that is very heavily traveled,” he said. “A tremendous amount of resources have already been expended to protect the open space and natural beauty of this area.” 

A site walk of the property will be held at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 3. Board member Josef Chalat said the public is welcome to attend the walk, but all comments should be submitted via email to O’Meara. 

A public hearing regarding the proposal was also set for Dec. 19.

Edgewood Way

The board unanimously deemed O’Donovan’s application complete on Oct. 17. 

Peter Biegle of Land Design Solutions – a Maine-based landscape architectural and site planning firm – spoke on behalf of O’Dovonan on Tuesday and said there is no specific time frame for the construction of the road.

During public comment, Jonathan Clark, who lives at 73 Ocean House Road, asked the board to consider that any development at number 75 would be visible from his home, which abuts O’Donovan’s property. Additionally, Edgecomb Way would cross his property.

“This whole development takes a major chunk out of our backyard, something we’ve been enjoying peace and privacy in for decades,” Clark said, adding that he is concerned about vegetation that would be harmed or removed. 

O’Meara confirmed on Tuesday that O’Donovan has deeded rights to cross the property and build a road. 

“The two parties are working well together,” board member Jonathan Sahrbeck said. “I hope that continues.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

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