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Rockland denies claims by cell-tower company

By Stephen Betts | Jun 20, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The proposed 120-foot communication tower is proposed for 182 Camden St., adjacent to Pizza Hut.

Portland — Rockland is denying that it violated federal law by rejecting a proposal to erect a 120-foot cellular communication tower on Camden Street.

Attorneys filed a response June 17 on behalf of the city and the Rockland Planning Board for the lawsuit filed March 17 in U.S. District Court in Portland by Bay Communications III, LLC.

The company is asking the court to order Rockland to approve the cell tower project.

The responses, filed by attorneys Dawn Harmon and James Katsiaficas of Portland deny the allegations and repeatedly stated that they were without knowledge or information to for a belief as to the truth of the allegation.

And the response argues that Bay Communications' complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

The court gave the parties until November to file motions. A tentative trial date is Feb. 1, 2021.

The Rockland Planning Board voted against the project at its Feb. 18 meeting, a proposal that was opposed by many Rockland residents who said it would reduce their property values, be an aesthetic nightmare, and pose health risks.

In the lawsuit, the company's lawyers argued that federal law calls for national policy to “make available, so far as possible, to all people of the United States, without discrimination... a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges, for the purpose of national defense, [and] for the purpose of promoting safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications.”

Bay Communications seeks to have the tower erected on a commercial lot at 182 Camden St. next to Pizza Hut. The lot is adjacent to the Pen Bay Acres neighborhood and the Shore Village housing complex.

The results of a radio frequency propagation study revealed a significant gap in wireless service coverage along the heavily developed corridor of U.S. Route 1 in the vicinity of 182 Camden St. To remedy that significant gap in service, an additional cell site in Rockland is required, the company states in its lawsuit.

The communications company submitted its application Sept. 9.

The Planning Board ruled that the application did not adhere to a commercial overlay zone approved by the City Council in 2015. Bay Communications argued that this overlay zone did not apply.

The 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 2019.

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

Bay Communications is represented by attorney Kellie Fisher and David Kallin of Portland, and Wayne Dennison of Boston.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: ananur forma | Jun 21, 2020 14:25
Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Jun 20, 2020 18:13

Nobel Prize winning scientist?  What the heck does that mean?  Pres Obama won one of those didn't he?  For what?



Posted by: ananur forma | Jun 20, 2020 14:21

There ARE other sites. I spoke with Vince (last name?) of Bay Communications on the phone 2 times suggesting options for him to pursue. Cell towers smack dab on Rte. 1 next to Pizza Hut near a shopping plaza is a ridiculous idea. It would be an awful sight and would ruin the look of Rockland, not to mention property values, diminished health and does not fit with our plan for this city. There is now documented research by Nobel prize winning scientists suing the FCC for proposing cell towers which are near neighborhoods and the  population, children (nearby Littlefield church has a children's school)  which cell companies NEVER did any research regarding our health.They just do as they please not caring about the will of the people. Why do we have to fight this in court and spend money when we do not want this?

Not democratic. This is what dictatorship countries do, plow over the will of the people. Cell tower companies have become our dictators and FCC backs them up.

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