ANTRIM ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
November 10, 2009 Meeting
Members & Staff Present: Diane Chauncey (Staff) Doug Crafts (Member)
John Giffin (Member) Ron Haggett (Member) John Kendall (Chair)
Peter Moore (Planner)
Members & Staff Absent: Don Winchester (Alternate), Frank Scales (Member)
Peter Burwen (Applicant) Ben Pratt (Resident)
Doug Wilkins (Attorney – AT&T) Dave Kirkpatrick (Iron Horse Audio)
Shelly Nelkens (Resident) Shannon McManus (KJK Wireless-AT&T)
Ken J. Kozyra (KJK Wireless) Mike Bahitarian (Noise Control Engineer)
Michael Pon (The Villager) Lauren Kirkpatrick (Applicant)
Maureen Watts (Applicant) Ruth Zwirner (Resident)
Bonnie Achterhof (Resident) Patrick Nyston (AT&T)
7:00 Review Session
Review Minutes of October 27, 2009
Review materials for meeting
7:15 Public Meeting:
Rehearing application of Mr. Peter Burwen, et al, for previous granting of Special Exception and Area Variances by ZBA to New Cingular (AT&T), dated July 14, 2009, for proposed telecommunications facility to be located at 22 High Street, Antrim, NH. Map 244, Lot 6 – Planning Department Case # 2009-01ZBA
Chair Kendall opened the meeting at 7:15pm and introduced himself and the members of the Board.
One member and one alternate were not present. Four members sat for the meeting.
At this point, Chair Kendall asked if anything new:
Mr. Moore listed five new pieces of information:
1. Summary and Research - attachments by appraiser, Peter Stanhope
2. Peter Burwen's letter of rebuttal to Attorney Wilkins/Stanhope rebuttal to Louis Manias, dated 11/02/2009
3. Peter Burwen's letter of rebuttal to NCE Sound Test, dated 11/03/2009
4. AT&T Cell Equipment Noise Evaluation - Addendum, dated 11/05/2009
5. Peter Burwen's letter of rebuttal to Cell Equipment Noise Evaluation - Addendum dated 11/09/2009
Chair Kendall explained that it was a continued Public Meeting . Attorney Wilkins would be allowed to speak for the entire evening, excluding the last 30 minutes that would be saved for Public Hearing speakers.
Attorney Wilkins explained that two issues that he would be addressing dealt with noise and property values. He wished to address one argument concerning the ZBA granting Special Exceptions. He said that it is within the Board’s power to grant a Special Exception. Attorney Wilkins also wanted it known that AT&T was willingly to work within the requirements of the Antrim Zoning Ordinance and that AT&T had a mitigation proposal for the proposed Cell Tower. Attorney Wilkins then asked Mr. Bahitarian to present the AT&T Cell Equipment Noise Evaluation.
Mr. Bahitarian began by listing his qualifications (3-page-handout attached at the Town Hall file). He summarized by saying that he had worked in related fields for 25 years in numerous noise control projects, as a Board Certified Acoustical Engineer – a qualification that is similar to a P.E. (Professional Engineer) which he felt expressed his professional standards. He had in the last eighteen months completed more than a dozen sound evaluations.
Mr. Bahitarian described the manner in which the Noise Evaluation tests had been assessed. He explained the equipment, the landscape, the temperature, the time of day, etc. He explained the perception of sound and the differences that may be heard by individuals. (Report is available at Town Hall – “Noise Study – Kenneth Kozyra – KJK Wireless, LLC – November 5, 2009 – Antrim, NH AT&T Cell Equipment Noise Evaluation – Addendum)
Several questions were asked concerning the level of sound and the attenuation of sound. Mr. Bahtiarian explained that the perceived level of sound of the “ear and the physics” are mixed up
In the November addendum, Mr. Bahtiarian had been requested to explore mitigation possibilities for the A/C units and the generator. The A/C unit can be outfitted with a "muffler", which would result in a 40 or 43 db reduction in sound. He explained the numerous factors involved in the perception of sound, such as - ground, air, absorption, etc.
Mr. Haggett said that the A/C units do not run all the time.
Mr. Bahtiarian explained that the thermostat is set for optimum operating. The majority of units are set up with an economizer kit which turns on the fan.
Mr. Haggett questioned the difference in sound perception with various background noises and at what level would the A/C units be objectionable.
Mr. Bahtiarian explained that insect, wind, traffic noise all have tonal contents that can potentially blend the existing sounds. Snow absorbs sound.
Mr. Giffin stated that most people hear a 3db difference.
Chair Kendall said that he was trying to understand numbers and calculations and at what point sound could no longer be detected.
Mr. Crafts asked what difference would be made if the "muffler" were added?
Mr. Kozyra explained that a baffling system could be used which redirected the noise down a baffle.
Mr. Haggett asked if the generating unit was a standard unit. Mr. Bahtiarian concurred that it was.
Chair Kendall asked if the muffler could be made a condition of approval.
Mr. Moore asked if sound diminishes as it travels up hill.
Mr. Bahtiarian explained that traveling sound is complicated and numerous factors must be considered.
Mr. Moore asked about trees and berms as sound barriers.
Mr. Bahtiarian assured him that trees do affect the sound
The Board and Attorney Wilkins' witnesses discussed fences as sound barriers. Although, the sound could be mitigated by a fence - maintenance and aesthetics should be factored.
Mr. Kozyra stated that no two-cell tower sites are alike - "kind of like snowflakes". With that, he had a color handout that depicted wireless carrier equipment at multiple, existing locations in the Boston area. He felt that the handout showed the best available equipment at the present. He reiterated the diversity in cell tower sites and that the equipment is constantly changing. PWSF companies usually buy the equipment in bulk so that each company has similar equipment in various locations. He then explained some of the variety in equipment, and explained that there is no consistency in determining future equipment expressing the impossibility of hearing exactly the sound of the equipment that AT&T will construct at the Antrim site).
The Board and Attorney Wilkins' witnesses discussed the effectiveness of various barriers (fences, berms, concrete, etc.) as a sound baffler. Mr. Kozyra felt that in some instances, a fence was not an appropriate solution.
Chair Kendall questioned the Fall Zone. Mr. Kozyra said that there are different formulas for fall zonesand various interpretations.
Mr. Kozyra explained that the site of the tower had been relocated due to the existing wetlands on the Dunlap property.
Chair Kendall asked Attorney Wilkins if AT&T were still willing to add a condition that AT&T would locate on the proposed tower and any other provider would need to come before the Zoning Board of Adjustment to co-locate on the Dunlap tower.
Attorney Wilkins agreed that AT&T would be willing to add that condition.
Chair Kendall questioned the monopine structure - what would happen in a wind story - would it be safer not to erect a monopine?
Mr. Kozyra stated that KJK had constructed many fake trees - some like them, some do not. The monopine is a maintenance issue. They are a plastic composite material on steel mounting. Under heavy loads of snow and ice, the branches fall straight down. A "branch" from a monopine was passed around for the Board to handle. He continued that a monopine could be considered :visual clutter" or "visual badness".
Chair Kendall asked if the neighborhood would be safer if a monopole was constructed.
Mr. Kozyra felt that the monopine was a maintenance issue, not a safety issue.
Chair Kendall asked Attorney Wilkins if there was anything further he would like to add to the presentation. Attorney Wilkins said that his presentation was complete for the evening and that the appraiser, Peter Stanhope, would have his presentation on November 17, 2009.
Chair Kendall opened the Public Hearing.
Ms. Nelkens said that Mr. Bahtiarian had continually referred to the average person. She wanted to know - what is average?
Mr. Bahtiarian attempted to explain his meaning of average in mathematical terms.
Ms. Nelkens interrupted by saying that she just wanted average/median defined. "It makes a huge difference - 50% will hear, 50% will not hear.
Chair Kendall said that the average person is limited to 54 dbl. He further said that it is a difficult question to answer. Different people have different levels of hearing.
Attorney Wilkins said that average means typical, and that the noise study is a mature science and that noise studies are done for all types of developments.
Mr. Bahtiarian said that maybe he should have used the word typical.
Ms. Nelkens reminded the Board that there is a percentage of the population has good hearing and that a significant number may find the noise from the Cell Tower equipment objectionable.
Chair Kendall said that he had wanted to hear the equipment at the location of the Cell Tower and to understand how sound travelled in the neighborhood.
Mr. Burwen said that Engineer Kirkpatrick’s noisestudy had completed extensive research. Any audible sound will be perceived as annoying, obnoxious, and offensive to the neighborhood. The abutters have been very specific about their concerns. The noise will be offensive and bothersome to some people.
Chair Kendall stated that the Board has listened to tremendous information form both sides. It is up to the Board to make a decision.
Ms. Watts said that there had been talk in past meetings concerning the low vibrations. She works in an office building where there is a room that houses computers and has A/C units to cool the computers. She wanted to know if the lower vibrations of the cell tower equipment would be different from the vibrations that she experienced in her office.
Chair Kendall thought it was a good question and compared the vibrations to a base guitar.
Mr. Bahtiarian said that that was not true. All assessments are in dba and weighted decibels are used in 99% of noise ordinances. The ear does not hear low frequency sound. The diesel engine is inside an enclosure - vibrations are not an issue.
Chair Kendall asked if Mr. Kirkpatrick wished to rebut.
Mr. Kirkpatrick said that the Bahtiarian Noise study does not include the start up of the engines. The interaction of motors is not included. Co-location would have a bigger impact. The six A/C units and six generators with all sound sources interacting would be a different picture. He repeated that he did not feel that the AT&T noise study did not represent the sounds that may occur.
Chair Kendall said that he understood that the test was a simulation and not as practical as the real thing, but the ZBA is trying to evaluate all information as given to them.
jk – ZBA understands that it is a simulation – not as practical as real thing – but the Board is tyring to evaluate on all information as given to them
Ms. Nelkens wanted to know if the measurements of powering up had been done by AT&T?
Mr. Bahtiarian said, "No, they have not."
Mr. Giffin said that he had looked for a spike in noise (during the test) and he did not find it.
Mr. Kirkpatrick said that some people can be annoyed by the sound.
Chair Kendall said that when the sound level was increased by dbs (during the test), that it was virtually impossible to tell.
Mr. Kirkpatrick said that the standards should be the property line and the noise level at the nearest property line. The test was done at a time of night when there were cars, airplanes - not an ideal test situation. It was not a quiet time of day - it was a fairly loud time n the neighborhood.
Mr. Burwen said that contrary to what was said earlier by Mr. Kozyra (that ice, snow, and wind do not usually occur in the same storm), there was ice, snow, and wind during the December 09 ice storm. He also wanted to add that the fall zone of the cell tower should be twice the height of the tower and that the Oicles were 60' off the boundary line, and that ice coming off the tower could be a danger. The parts from the tower could become "jettisoning" pieces.
Mr. Burwen continued with a discussion of ambient noise and power failures. His big contention is that the cell tower would alter the flavor of the neighborhood. The people of the neighborhood are imploring the ZBA to protect their interests.
Ms. Kirkpatrick stated that what has bothered her from the beginning is that the Board is for the good of the Town and …..
Chair Kendall said that the Board is listening carefully to both sides and the Board is looking forward to being close to the conclusion, and will make a fair decision.
The Public Meeting will be continued to November 17, 2009 - Attorney Wilkins will present his appraiser, Peter Stanhope.
Approve Minutes of October 27. 2009 Mr. Burwen had disagreed with a portion of the minutes and had written a statement to include in the minutes. The Board decided not to make the change. Mr. Haggett moved to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Giffin seconded the motion and the minutes were approved by all.
At 9:50 pm, Mr. Crafts moved to adjourn the meeting. It was seconded by Mr. Haggett, and approved.
Diane M. Chauncey
Planning Assistant, On Behalf of the Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment