By Drew Sullivan
HANSON — The Zoning Board of Appeals discuss a proposed cell tower behind Hanson Middle School during a joint meeting with Selectmen on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
Representatives of Verizon, including an engineer, attorney, and acoustic scientist were on hand to field any questions from the board and the public. The board received a handout of the proposed plan itself, as Verizon attorney Mike Giaimo went into greater detail.
The tower would be 150 feet tall, and would help with a cellular coverage gap in North Hanson said Giaimo, noting that carrier T-Mobile has also shown interest. This single tower would be able to provide space for up to four cell phone carriers.
Building Inspector Robert Curran was not present at the meeting but passed on a message stating that while he had no objections, the tower’s access road would need to be maintained as a condition of approval.
Giaimo continued his presentation by mentioning the tower site’s lack of hazardous materials and the relatively infrequent maintenance that would be required.
One of the main concerns laid out by Verizon was a height restriction found in the town’s bylaws. Due to this, a variance would need to be requested to override it, as the proposed height is directly related to how well the coverage gap can be filled.
Giaimo also highlighted Verizon’s willingness to abide by if not exceed regulations set forth by the town.
“The dense tree growth provides a year round buffer,” he said, adding that there would be zero promotion, and signage would be limited to the FCC, a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, and any others applicable by local, state or federal law.
Later in the meeting, ZBA Chairman William Cushing brought up some concerns surrounding site security. These were immediately echoed by Hanson Selectman Kenneth Mitchell, who asked about the size and scope of the fencing.
“Eight feet tall approximately” said Giaimo, responding to Mitchell’s question. “I think we should make it as tall as possible, since it’s near a school.” Mitchell added. In an attempt to alleviate these concerns, site acquisition specialist Sean Mahoney alongside Verzion engineering consultants made it a point to emphasize that the fence would be barbed wire, therefore decreasing the chance of a break-in.
Sound concerns were also a topic of discussion during the evening’s meeting. Facing questions from the board, Verizon acoustic scientist Doug Sheadel summed it up concisely by stating that there will be no noise pollution from the site, and furthermore, any noise generated would only come from the on-site generator, to be used in emergency situations only (i.e loss of power).
Cushing’s final main concern was emergency access to the site, especially after a storm. Attorney Giaimo said he believed that it won’t be a problem, pointing to the number of treacherous and storm-prone locations that Verizon has functional and accessible cell towers.
A final statement was brought forth by Interim Town Administrator Meredith Marini on behalf of an email sent by Hanson Police Chief Michael Miksch. The email stated that Chief Miksch has no objections to the tower and finds the lack of cellular coverage to be a public safety concern, especially since many no longer have landlines.