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Planning Board approves Woodchuck Hill Road cell tower

The Planning Board has approved the Verizon cell tower on Woodchuck Hill Road, concluding the monthslong approval process for the controversial tower. The board voted unanimously to approve the tower at its Feb. 22 meeting, where members worked with Verizon attorney Chris Swiniarski to determine the conditions of the approval.

The site plan approval requires that Verizon finish constructing the tower within five years, though Swianiarski stated that he expects it to be done far sooner than that. The special permit that the Zoning Board of Appeals issued last month requires Verizon to remove the old tower within six months of the new one’s construction.

Verizon would need to obtain a separate special permit in order to install any additional carriers on the tower. According to Swiniarski, it might be possible for one other carrier to co-locate on the 125-foot tower. During the ZBA approval process, engineering consultant David Maxson stated that it was unlikely other carriers would be able to co-locate on the tower, since the tall trees around it would disrupt signals from all but the highest position on the tower.

The base of the tower will be screened from public view by a row of “Green Giant” arborvitae. When planted, they will be 5 to 6 feet tall and 10 to 11 feet apart but will eventually grow much larger and are expected to fully screen the structure. According to Planning Board member Gwen Leonard, planting younger, smaller trees allows them to establish the strong root systems they will need to remain healthy for decades to come. Swiniarski also agreed to a long-term watering and replacement plan for the trees.

The facility is forbidden from generating noise above ambient levels, and its generator will be allowed to run only once per week, and only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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