Topsham cell tower proposal returns to Planning Board

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TOPSHAM — A cellular communications tower proposed for the Heights neighborhood returns to the Planning Board on Tuesday, May 4.

The 7 p.m. meeting at the Municipal Building will be preceded by a 6 p.m. site walk, at 14 Oak St., of the tower’s proposed location.

Mariner Tower’s request to build the tower on land leased from Clifford and Pauline Farr packed Planning Board hearings last June and on March 16, with both meetings running more than three hours. Public comment was predominantly opposed to the 75-foot tower, which is the maximum height for a single-carrier tower (in this case, T-Mobile).

Board members in March asked for more information about drainage, why existing towers are not sufficient and the need for the tower, since Mariner’s original proposal was for 103 feet.

Opponents have said a tower is inappropriate for a residential neighborhood. They have also raised concerns about potential health risks and diminished real estate values from having a tower nearby.

Chris Ciolfi, Mariner’s chief development officer, has noted he is not seeking variances or special compensation, that his proposal meets all setback requirements, and that the tower would be built in a zone where it is an allowed use. With cellular communications continuing to expand in usage and evolve in nature, he has said, service providers have a need for stronger signals to reach inside buildings and compete with land lines.

Attorney Brian Grossman, representing T-Mobile, said in March that the tower would address a lack of coverage in the area between Route 196, Route 201 and Interstate 295. He said about 33 percent of Topsham’s population is in the overall coverage footprint, and that the new coverage would include about 20 percent of the population.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.