Falmouth board to weigh cell tower proposal

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FALMOUTH — Arguing there are significant coverage gaps in the area, Verizon Wireless is seeking permission to build a cell tower near 175 Falmouth Road.

The Planning Board will take up the application at its July 11 meeting.

Because the tower falls into the Tier III category, which allows structures up to 200 feet, the proposal also requires Town Council approval.

Ethan Croce, the town planner, said the council referred the request to the Planning Board last fall for an advisory opinion on whether it meets the criteria of the town’s wireless ordinance.

A key part of that ordinance requires that any new cell tower “minimize adverse visual impacts … through careful design, siting and vegetative screening.”

The ordinance also requires that a tower proposal be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

In its communications with the planning office, Verizon Wireless said the tower “has been designed to significantly improve wireless service in Falmouth while avoiding nearly all impacts, visual and otherwise.”

On maps provided to the town, Verizon has indicated the tower would be built well back from the roadway, about 3,000 feet, on an undeveloped piece of land.

Verizon also said it would “not result in any noise, light dust, traffic or other impacts to the abutting properties. Further, the subject parcel is of such significant size as to limit the impacts to (abutters) to … the access drive,” which the company said would be “no larger than a road that would be used for farming or forestry activities.”

The areas targeted by the new cell tower would be west of the Maine Turnpike Spur and include Falmouth, Woods, and Woodland roads, according to the maps provided by Verizon.

In response to a question from the town about whether cell towers already at Town Hall and the Department of Public Works could be utilized to boost coverage to that part of town, a consultant hired by Verizon said that tack would not provide the coverage needed.

According to the plans presented to the town, Verizon is proposing a 90-foot monopole, with the antenna equipment at 87 feet above ground level.

The facility would have a 10,000-square-foot lease area, with a tower pad and a security fence, along with other “supporting infrastructure.”

“I cannot predict if the Planning Board will provide its advisory opinion (to the council) on the 11th or whether it will table the request (again, in order) to obtain additional information,” Croce said.

Also on the Planning Board agenda for July 11 is a proposed new eight-unit condominium development at 25 Falmouth Road and a 32-unit development at 80 Blackstrap Road.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

The proposed site for a new cell tower, which would be located about 3,000 feet back from Falmouth Road and serve the area of town west of the Turnpike Spur.