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Rockland has month to respond to cell tower lawsuit

By Stephen Betts | May 17, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The proposed lot for the 120-foot communication tower.

Rockland — Rockland has until June 22 to file a response to a lawsuit filed in federal court by a communications company that was denied approval to erect a 120-foot cell tower on Camden Street.

The U.S. District Court set the June 22 deadline for Rockland in an order issued May 14 in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Bay Communications III, LLC filed the lawsuit March 17. The company is asking the court to order Rockland to approve the cell tower project.

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

The Planning Board in its findings listed several reasons for the denial. The board ruled the application did not adhere to a commercial overlay zone approved by the City Council in 2015. Bay Communications argued this overlay zone did not apply.

The board also said the project was not compatible to the neighborhood.

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 Bay Communications plan calls for a six-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.

Bay Communications is represented by attorney Kellie Fisher of Portland, Kelsey Bond of Hartford, Conn., and Wayne Dennison of Boston. Rockland's attorney(s) will be listed when the city files its response.

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Comments (10)
Posted by: Stephen Betts | May 18, 2020 15:54

I will.

Posted by: ananur forma | May 18, 2020 15:33

I hope that Steve Betts will keep us updated and informed!

thx for getting this out in the public's view, Steve.

Posted by: ananur forma | May 18, 2020 13:34

realtor told me the average value of the houses here is $250,000 so that;'s NOT rich although some houses are nicer than other. what about the road to the Samoset...or upper Summer Street those are super nice homes, I think

My property tax is $4500. which is way high for my budget here in Pen Bay Acres. I don't mind telling the truth about money because money is not my God.

Posted by: Ed and Melissa Boon | May 18, 2020 13:16

Fyi that's over 100,000 more than I paid for my house. Nobody knew wow

Posted by: ananur forma | May 18, 2020 12:37

rich in Pen Bay Acres? you're totally wrong about that thought. I paid $159.000 for my house. wealthy me? I think not.

Fire House who knew. they put it up suddenly quietly sneaky. I thought it was for emergency communications did not know at that time about radiation levels.

Posted by: Jack S Copp | May 18, 2020 10:03

It is my belief and hope that the Rockland Planning Board and their legal council see this issue through and stand their ground, which is firm by virtue of our laws that were pre-existing to the plans and demands of NEWN, Bay Communications and AT&T.

Posted by: Ed and Melissa Boon | May 18, 2020 09:51

I've read about this over and over. Where were all these voices when the fire department allowed a cell tower put up less than 500feet from a ton of houses including mine. Is It only the rich that matter pen bay acres

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | May 18, 2020 09:02

Rockland officials are beginning to realize it's a little late to close the barn door once the horse is halfway down the road.  In the now famous words of Laural & Hardy  "well here's another fine mess mess you've gotton us into".

Posted by: ananur forma | May 18, 2020 08:25

I want to go to the court and speak up, will we be allowed to speak up to politely express our opinions? We all know this location is WRONG for the city of Rockland.  How dare they push it on us. Our voices matter.

Posted by: Christine E Fowlie | May 17, 2020 18:52

the wireless gap is in rockport by glencove  let rockport have the tower

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