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Members to get advice from city attorney

Planning Board to hold closed-door meeting on cell tower

By Stephen Betts | Feb 06, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Rockland Planning Board is scheduled to meet Feb. 12 with its attorney concerning the legal rights in dealing with cell tower projects. A 120-foot tower is proposed for 182 Camden St.

Rockland — The Rockland Planning Board will hold a closed-door meeting with the city attorney to discuss its legal rights on dealing with communication towers.

The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12 at City Hall. The meeting was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. but the earlier time was agreed to on Friday because of scheduling issues.

State law allows a municipal board to meet with its attorney concerning its legal rights. No action can be taken.

Bay Communications III LLC wants to erect a 120-foot tall monopole-style communication cell tower at the lot adjacent to the south of Pizza Hut on Camden Street.

That plan has been met with considerable opposition by neighbors and other residents in Rockland.

Bay Communications plan calls for a 6-foot chain-link fence with barbed wire around the base of the tower, which would sit on a 50-by-50-foot clean stone tower pad. The plan was submitted in September.

The board held two meetings on the issue but has postponed action Jan. 8 until an appraisal analysis is done to determine the impact the tower could have on adjacent residential properties.

Rockland contracted with Fred Bucklin of Bucklin Appraisal, LLC of Appleton to conduct the independent analysis.

That study is not expected to be done before March.

The next review by the Board of Bay Communications' plan has not been scheduled.

The lot has been vacant for at least 20 years. Richard and Sherry Thacker of Brunswick had received approvals in 2000 and again in 2005 to build an Arby's Restaurant on the property. The couple never moved ahead with that project.

The Thackers bought the property in 1999 from Agnes Firth, who had operated a small boarding house there. That house has since been demolished.

Residents raised concern about the health impact from having a cell tower so close to where people live or attend school.

The city's attorney, Mary Costigan, issued an opinion that the city's Planning Board cannot consider environmental impacts including on health effects from radio frequency emissions. The attorney said the 1996 Federal Communications Act prohibits local communities from considering this issue.

Other concerns include aesthetics and possible devaluation of neighboring properties.

Attorney Jonathan Springer of New Hampshire, who represents Bay Communications, denied at the Nov. 5 meeting that the tower would devalue properties. He also said the company considered other sites but were unable to find an alternate location.

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Comments (7)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 10, 2020 15:11

Hopefully the "little" taxpayer will be heard and prevail. "Not in my backyard" should be the cry for the century!

Posted by: Ananur Forma | Feb 09, 2020 14:43

sorry to be so obnoxious, writing so much. This topic is so important.

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Feb 08, 2020 17:21

Just got notification in the mail from code officer, Adam Ackor, the planning board mtg. is now set for February 18 at 5:15 p.m. at Rockland City Hall. This is probably the deciding mtg. for the proposed cell tower next to Pizza Hut on rte. 1.

I hope that absolutely everyone will come. This is about Rockland. It's not just about protecting Pen Bay Acres and Shore Village Apartment complex. We need all, everyone to come to stop cell towers from ever being built next to a neighborhood. If you can't come, please send out positive thoughts!!!

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Feb 07, 2020 14:58

Ex- Judge and also retired city of Rockland attorney, well respected  Barry Faber came up with a legal pathway I thought, to put an end to this non-sensical site for a cell tower. Also Erik Lausen (sp.?) had found something as well. Hope the attorney from Portland, for Rockland knows her stuff. I do not want Rockland to get sued, I just want the cell tower to be away from people's homes, including mine. Meanwhile a Nobel prize winning scientist has sued the FCC 1996 ruling that says you cannot include health concerns to stop a cell tower from going up. Do you recall  Anthony Newley singing his brilliant song from his brilliant musical show?  "Stop the World I Want to Get Off."  Yup, I can rock with that right now.

Posted by: Stephen Betts | Feb 06, 2020 18:01

Jack, I covered those issues and included those comments in the Jan. 7 article. This article is about the upcoming meeting with a condensed version of both sides arguments from prior meetings.

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Feb 06, 2020 16:22

There are at least 12  YouTubes of cell towers on fire falling down. Pizza Hut is only 105 ft. from the proposed site for the 120 plus tower. this came out 2/4/2020


A Nobel Prize-winning scientist has filed a lawsuit alleging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) failed to update cellular phone and wireless radiofrequency (RF) radiation limits and cellular phone testing methods in over two decades. These failures, the plaintiffs contend, ignore “peer-reviewed scientific studies showing that radiation from cell phones and cell phone towers and transmitters is associated with severe health effects in humans, including cancer, DNA damage, damage to the reproductive organs, and brain damage (including memory problems).”

Posted by: Jack S Copp | Feb 06, 2020 15:37

Mr. Betts, You Omitted in your article that a local licensed realtor spoke at that meeting and completely refuted the claims by Mr. Springer that the land value would not go down. In fact her testimony reaffirmed the well known fact that the property values will indeed be reduced by up to 20% of their values, be less desirable to potential buyers and be harder to sell. Additionally several current residents testified that if there was a tower already in place they wouldn’t have considered buying there in the first place. Can it be any clearer to you? I am sorry sir, but the way you have portrayed that aspect of this issue is glaringly one sided. You seemingly make the idea put forward by Mr. Springer that our home and land value would not be affected cut in stone, when it most certainly is not.

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