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Replay of 2012 cell tower debate

Rockland cell tower hearing postponed until January

By Stephen Betts | Nov 22, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Planning Board meeting for the proposed 120-foot cell tower at 182 Camden St. has been postponed until Jan. 7.

Rockland — The Rockland Planning Board hearing to review a proposed 120-foot cell tower on Camden Street next to a residential neighborhood has been postponed.

The proposal by Bay Communications III LLC filed to erect the monopole-style tower at 182 Camden St., adjacent to the south of Pizza Hut will now be heard on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

The postponement came at the request of Bay Communications, according to the Rockland code office.

The meeting had been planned for Dec. 3.

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 company would lease the back of the vacant lot from RT Properties, LLC of Topsham.

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.

At the Planning Board's first review of the proposal on Nov. 5, numerous neighbors turned out to voice opposition to the project. The opposition centered on their contention that it would devalue their properties and be ugly at a main entrance to the community.

Others have 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, however, issued an opinion that the city 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.

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

This is not the first time that a cell tower has generated opposition in Rockland.

In September 2012, the Rockland Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously reject a proposal on behalf of U.S. Cellular to erect a 100-foot high flagpole-type communication tower on property near a quarry off Old County Road on land owned by the Rockland Golf Club.

Residential neighbors had opposed that plan as well, saying it would have a negative impact on their views.

The Zoning Board ruled that the cell tower was not compatible to the area, did not meet the conditional use requirement in the ordinance, and that the landscaping plan was inadequate.

U.S. Cellular eventually dropped the plan.

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 26, 2019 12:37

Big business usually prevails, hopefully the people will overturn this one!

Posted by: Ananur Forma | Nov 22, 2019 14:03

have just read 5G is "rolling in" in December. Maybe they don't

need to build a 120ft. tower next to a neighborhood and smack dab on Rte. 1 which is the wrong location

to put it kindly. google:  5g December 2019

Posted by: Carleton Ingerson | Nov 22, 2019 12:50

That is absolutely a terrible location for a tower...They never should be located inside of a community. There are plenty of other locations available elsewhere!


Posted by: Ananur Forma | Nov 22, 2019 11:36

oh my goodness, this gives us more time for research! I am not in favor of a cell phone tower on Rte. 1 next to a neighborhood in Rockland. If it were to go up (I think it won't) it WOULD set a precedent and then there would be more of them right smack dab on Rte. 1 in Rockland (no protective ordinances in this city!) next door to neighborhoods. That would destroy the image Rockland is seeking to project of a small Maine city with lots of galleries, museums and great food.

Let's all come to the meeting Tuesday January 7th at 5:15 p.m. and say "No, we don't want it in town."

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