City awaits independent appraisal report, next review could be Feb. 4

Rockland residents turn out to oppose cell tower

By Stephen Betts | Jan 07, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Rockland Planning Board toured Tuesday afternoon Jan. 7 the vacant lot at 182 Camden St. where a 120-foot tall cellular communication tower is proposed to be erected. Neighbor Jack Copp flew balloons more than 100 feet in the air to demonstrate the view of the proposed tower.

Rockland — Rockland residents filled City Hall Tuesday night to voice opposition to a proposal for a 120-foot cellular communication tower.

Eighty people turned out at the Jan. 8 meeting of the Rockland Planning Board on the proposal by Bay Communications III, LLC for the monopole that would be located at 182 Camden Street, a vacant lot next to Pizza Hut.

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.

Attorney Jonathan Springer of New Hampshire, who represents Bay Communications, said the best way to prevent cell towers from being in a community was not to buy and use cell phones. He said towers are erected in communities because that is where the customers are located.

He said the company looked at other locations along Route 1 in Rockland and nearby Glen Cove, but those owners were not interested or zoning prohibited the towers.

The Planning Board took no action on the project as it awaits more information from the company. The board will meet again Feb. 4.

Planning Board Chair Erik Laustsen pointed out to Springer that the project does not appear to meet the setback requirement for the zone.

The city has contracted with Fred Bucklin of Bucklin Appraisal, LLC of Appleton to conduct an independent appraisal on the impact of cell towers on residential properties. He is expected to complete the report by the end of February. If the report is not done by the Feb. 4 meeting, the review will be postponed to the next meeting, Feb. 18.

Residents turned out to the meeting with 20 people speaking against the project.

David Evans of Acadia Drive said he and his wife purchased their home four months ago, but would not have paid what they did if they knew they would end up with a view of a 120-foot cell tower.

Former City Attorney Barry Faber said it was clear that the proposed cell tower would not be compatible with either the residential or commercial neighborhood that surrounds it. He said it goes against the comprehensive plan.

Current Rockland City Attorney Mary Costigan has advised the Planning Board that it cannot consider potential health impacts from a cell tower since the Federal Communications Act approved by Congress in 1996 prohibits municipalities from considering that matter.

Residents, however, spoke out health concerns.

Nancy Galland said studies done since 1996 have shown health risks. She said that the corporate world is known for lying about health effects whether it be cigarette manufacturers or pesticide factories.

Adele Grossman Faber agreed, saying cell phone radiation has a negative impact on health. She also cited the noise that will come from the generator there.

Noel Oakes of Acadia Drive said the tower would be a monstrosity. He voiced concern about the health impact on neighbors and the children who attend the nearby Pen Bay Christian School.

Renee Hutcheon from Acadia Drive said she knows from out-of-state experience that a cell tower located next to a house does affect residential property values.

"Anything that causes alarm, common sense would say no," Hutcheon said.

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.

Comments (7)
Posted by: Ananur Forma | Jan 09, 2020 12:35

Hi Gerald. We suggested adding it to the old Van Balen's bldg. where Jensen's Pharmacy is...It already has many cell "cabinets" on top. Vincent Granese the property search fellow for Bay Communications said that he would call the office and find out.  It's way too tall for Main Street and besides they WANT this stretch of land where he says there is poor reception for AT&T. I say people ought to have a land line besides a cell phone if their area is not consistent with their reception. What's wrong with that idea? They say they asked Home Depot who said, no, and Pizza Hut property owners of that lot, and others. No one said, Yes. Besides the fact that next to a residential area i not good, and Valli Geiger is writing up an ordinance to protect the people of Rockland. I thought behind Dead River Co. might be ok since there already is a standing tower used long ago for radio communications.



Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Jan 09, 2020 08:19

Without knowing any of the particulars, could this tower be located on the roof of a building on Main Street?



Posted by: Jack S Copp | Jan 08, 2020 05:03

Never have I been more proud to call myself a Mainer and more than that, a Rocklander! The show of righteous and informed opposition to AT&T's proposed 120 and up to 140 foot cell tower at 182 Camden street, [next to Pizza Hut] was noteworthy and inspiring. The level of informed discontent by the aggrieved citizens of Pen Bay Acres, other neighborhoods in Rockland and even one from Union who was allowed to comment at the planning board meeting was uplifting in that it showed the depth and breadth of concern for this pressing issue which effects us all. Unfortunately, this outcry of opposition to this plan the was surpassed only by the tardiness of AT&T's legal representative , who's speech preceded the public comments and by all accounts seemed cold, uncaring and  ill prepared. For example he, only provided key elements of AT&T's revised plans to Rockland's planning board, yesterday, Jan 6th and which gave the board no time to review, showed up late to the meeting and was very unprofessional especially since this meeting had been scheduled, then rescheduled now,  for about two months. Add to this inconsideration to the value of our time,  during his presentation, believe it or not, the trite  Mr. Springer had the audacity to say " If you don't want these towers then stop using these", wile waving his own cell phone around over his head!  While I realize Mr. Springer was trying to make a point, it was disingenuous and patronizing to me and probably everyone else who attended this meeting with well researched and legitimate grievances. I applaud the boards restraint in this matter and hope they will carefully consider the laundry list of sound reasons not to allow this tower to be built. Once they have considered everything I feel confident that common sense will prevail, they will protect the people of Rockland, which is one of their mandates and they will not allow the construction of this or any other ill conceived tower. I also hope Rockland adopts the new proposals and ordinances put forward by our Rockland City Counsel woman Valli Geiger regarding cell phone towers.  These new rules are sorely need here as telecommunication companies, who are driven by profit, and like the predators they are, will always select the weak  and in Rocklands case, a weak cell tower ordinance, to feed on.



Posted by: Jack S Copp | Jan 08, 2020 04:59

Never have I been more proud to call myself a Mainer and more than that, a Rocklander! The show of righteous and informed opposition to AT&T's proposed 120 and up to 140 foot cell tower at 182 Camden street, [next to Pizza Hut] was noteworthy and inspiring. The level of informed discontent by the aggrieved citizens of Pen Bay Acres, other neighborhoods in Rockland and even one from Union who was allowed to comment at the planning board meeting was uplifting in that it showed the depth and breadth of concern for this pressing issue which effects us all. Unfortunately, this outcry of opposition to this plan the was surpassed only by the tardiness of AT&T's legal representative , who's speech preceded the public comments and by all accounts seemed cold, uncaring and  ill prepared. For example he, only provided key elements of AT&T's revised plans to Rockland's planning board, yesterday, Jan 6th and which gave the board no time to review, showed up late to the meeting and was very unprofessional especially since this meeting had been scheduled, then rescheduled now,  for about two months. Add to this inconsideration to the value of our time,  during his presentation, believe it or not, the trite  Mr. Springer had the audacity to say " If you don't want these towers then stop using these", wile waving his own cell phone around over his head!  While I realize Mr. Springer was trying to make a point, it was disingenuous and patronizing to me and probably everyone else who attended this meeting with well researched and legitimate grievances. I applaud the boards restraint in this matter and hope they will carefully consider the laundry list of sound reasons not to allow this tower to be built. Once they have considered everything I feel confident that common sense will prevail, they will protect the people of Rockland, which is one of their mandates and they will not allow the construction of this or any other ill conceived tower. I also hope Rockland adopts the new proposals and ordinances put forward by our Rockland City Counsel woman Valli Geiger regarding cell phone towers.  These new rules are sorely need here as telecommunication companies, who are driven by profit, and like the predators they are, will always select the weak  and in Rocklands case, a weak cell tower ordinance, to feed on.



Posted by: Jack S Copp | Jan 08, 2020 04:59

Never have I been more proud to call myself a Mainer and more than that, a Rocklander! The show of righteous and informed opposition to AT&T's proposed 120 and up to 140 foot cell tower at 182 Camden street, [next to Pizza Hut] was noteworthy and inspiring. The level of informed discontent by the aggrieved citizens of Pen Bay Acres, other neighborhoods in Rockland and even one from Union who was allowed to comment at the planning board meeting was uplifting in that it showed the depth and breadth of concern for this pressing issue which effects us all. Unfortunately, this outcry of opposition to this plan the was surpassed only by the tardiness of AT&T's legal representative , who's speech preceded the public comments and by all accounts seemed cold, uncaring and  ill prepared. For example he, only provided key elements of AT&T's revised plans to Rockland's planning board, yesterday, Jan 6th and which gave the board no time to review, showed up late to the meeting and was very unprofessional especially since this meeting had been scheduled, then rescheduled now,  for about two months. Add to this inconsideration to the value of our time,  during his presentation, believe it or not, the trite  Mr. Springer had the audacity to say " If you don't want these towers then stop using these", wile waving his own cell phone around over his head!  While I realize Mr. Springer was trying to make a point, it was disingenuous and patronizing to me and probably everyone else who attended this meeting with well researched and legitimate grievances. I applaud the boards restraint in this matter and hope they will carefully consider the laundry list of sound reasons not to allow this tower to be built. Once they have considered everything I feel confident that common sense will prevail, they will protect the people of Rockland, which is one of their mandates and they will not allow the construction of this or any other ill conceived tower. I also hope Rockland adopts the new proposals and ordinances put forward by our Rockland City Counsel woman Valli Geiger regarding cell phone towers.  These new rules are sorely need here as telecommunication companies, who are driven by profit, and like the predators they are, will always select the weak  and in Rocklands case, a weak cell tower ordinance, to feed on.



Posted by: Ananur Forma | Jan 07, 2020 21:51

The hall was jam packed with sincere caring people. What a great place this is..........let's keep it this way.

NO CELL TOWERs next to anyone's homes, period. We the people have spoken.



Posted by: Ananur Forma | Jan 07, 2020 21:48

Jack Copp.. spelling correction.



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