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Cape Elizabeth ZBA refuses to reconsider, or discuss, cell tower ruling

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Cape Elizabeth ZBA refuses to reconsider, or discuss, cell tower ruling

CAPE ELIZABETH — The Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday refused to reconsider its May 27 denial of a bid to construct a cell tower in Shore Acres.

It did so without allowing comment from the public or Verizon, the company that sought reconsideration of the plan to construct a cellular tower on an existing water tower at 11 Avon Road.

Under the town zoning ordinance, the board has 45 days to reconsider its decisions, but only if a mistake is recognized. Otherwise, appeals can't be heard by the board for one year.

ZBA Secretary Joanna Tourangeau said Verizon's request only "raises new twists on arguments that were made." She said this "doesn't constitute prior mistakes of law on the part of the board."

In May, Verizon said federal law allows it to place an antenna on top of the 69-year-old water tower, regardless of the local zoning ordinances or site plan requirements. The tower has been dry since 2007, but has an antenna to monitor water pressure and sewer pump stations for the Portland Water District.

Code Enforcement Officer Ben McDougal denied Verizon's application. Residents who live near the tower protested how the altered tower would look, and suggested that noise and traffic would be problematic.

The ZBA denied Verizon's appeal of McDougal's decision and agreed with residents the cell tower would have a negative impact on the neighborhood.

The "new twists" raised by Verizon in a letter to the ZBA from attorney Steve Anderson concerned the definitions of "alternative tower structures," "concealment," and "principal vs. accessory use."

But a letter from attorneys representing Avon Road resident Brad Kaufman said Verizon "simply reiterates arguments it has already raised" and "simply disagrees with the result and is seeking another bite at the apple." The letter went on to say that this does not warrant a reconsideration.

The board agreed, and denied Verizon's request, but not before refusing to allow Anderson and others to speak. Board members also rejected a motion to allow members of the public to speak for five minutes each.

When Anderson interjected, asking for 30 seconds to speak, Tourangeau replied that he had just used his 30 seconds to ask that question.

As the board voted on whether to deny the request for reconsideration, Anderson interrupted and began speaking over the board members. Tourangeau raised her voice, and told Anderson he was out of order.

Anderson was silenced, and the request was denied.

Anderson was not available to discuss Verizon's next plan of action, or whether the company would take legal action.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.