Dalton ZBA OKs Altered Verizon Cell Tower

By Dan GigliottiiBerkshires Correspondent
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Verizon Wireless submitted updated photographs projecting the appearance of its new, square, faux smokestack cell phone tower design.

DALTON, Mass. — The Board of Appeals approved an amendment to a special permit application on Wednesday for Verizon Wireless to alter its design to erect a cell phone tower in Dalton.

Doing business as Pittsfield Cellular Telephone Co., Verizon Wireless applied for an amendment to its original special permit application to construct a service facility and equipment shed at 455 West Housatonic St., which was approved by the town on July 18, 2013.

The Board of Appeals decision grants Verizon permission to build a 105-feet tall, square "faux smokestack" and 12-by-30 foot equipment shed on the same property as Sinicon Plastics, barring any formal appeal. A Notice of Decision granting the special permit application for the structure will be submitted this week, according to the board's Administrative Assistant Lisa Peltier. Members of the public will have 20 days to appeal the decision.

Initially, Verizon presented the town with a plan to build a circular smokestack in hopes that its residents and officials would welcome the idea, based in part on its proposed proximity to Crane & Co.'s Byron-Weston Mill smokestack located nearby.

According to a letter written by Verizon to the Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 2 and included as part of the special permit application, the company cited financial infeasibility as the reason for a new tower design. The letter states that its original design was "too cost prohibitive to permit the tower to be built," but that a square smokestack would "provide for a workable design and buildable tower."

David Allen, owner of DKA Realty LLC, and the property where the tower will be built, said cost estimates for the cell phone tower were anticipated by Verizon to be approximately $60,000 for an "uncovered" structure; though the company was willing to cover the top of the structure for an additional cost, a purely aesthetic measure. Following the approval of a special permit application on July 18, 2013, Verizon gathered estimates for a round smokestack, the lowest of which was about $700,000.

The prevailing cost estimate for a square smokestack was $310,000.

An augmented visibility analysis provides over 50 photographs from some 30 locations under a 1.5-mile radius of the proposed smokestack, including areas in which the structure will be observable on a year-round and seasonal basis, as well as where it is not visible.

In its letter, Verizon further states:

“We do not believe that the change in the shape of the 'faux smokestack' will have a material affect on the visual impact of the telecommunications tower and that any perceived adverse impact will be outweighed by the benefits from having improved and enhanced telecommunications coverage and capacity.”

Tags: cell tower,   Verizon,   

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