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Zoning Board of Adjustment Minutes 03/06/2012
March 6, 2012 Meeting
Special Exception Cell Tower # 2012-01ZBA
Members & Staff Present:     
Diane Chauncey (Secretary)          Doug Crafts (Member)        John Giffin (Member)        
Ron Haggett (Member)        John Kendall (Chair)        Shelly Nelkens (Alternate)     

Members & Alternates Absent:  Frank Scales (Member)     Ray Ledgerwood (Alternate)
Public Attendees:                    Sheila Proctor (Abutter)                   Carter Proctor  (Abutter)
Andrew Lemay (Appraiser)            Sarah Vanderwende (PB Candidate)    Fred Ward (Stoddard)            
David Dubois (PB Member)            Kristen Vance (Abutter)                     RF Engineer (AT&T)              
Peter Moore (Abutter)               John Cucchi (Nelson)
Shannon McManus (AT&T Site acquisition)         Edward Pare Jr. Esq.(AT&T agent)

7:15 Public Hearing:  Case # 2012 -01ZBA

A  request by New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, by and through its Manager, AT&T Mobility Corporation, c/o Edward D. Pare, Jr. Esq., Brown Rudnick for a Special Exception per Article XIV D. 4. for a proposed Personal Wireless Service Facility (PWSF aka Cell Tower) on property owned by Ernest & Rose Litchfield located at 56 Smith Road (Tax Map 233, Lot 60), Antrim, NH 03440 in the Rural District. New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC requests that the Board grant a special exception for the installation, operation and maintenance of the facility.

Full Board – Ms. Nelkens to sit for the absent Mr. Scales.

Chair Kendall introduced himself and the Board members. Chair Kendall explained the Public Hearing process to the applicant and the Public Attendees.

The Secretary read the Notice as published in the local newspapers and stated that all abutters had been properly notified, all but two receipts had been returned, and there had been one comment by an abutter who had written a letter which the Board members have received electronically and as a hard copy.  Another abutter asked to see the application on more than one occasion but had no comment at the counter. A resident of a neighboring town asked to review the application but had no official comments.
Chair Kendall asked if the Board members had questions concerning the application. There were none at the time.

Chair Kendall asked Attorney Pare to present the proposal and request for a Special Exception.

Attorney Pare explained that numerous local locations had been evaluated for the most appropriate AT&T site and that the 56 Smith Road location was the best fit. The application for the proposed PWSF is currently before the Planning Board (for Site Plan Review) and the Zoning Board of Adjustment (for a Special Exception).

Atty Pare then displayed numerous plans on the easel (available at Town Hall). Some of the items illustrated and explained were:

Sheet C-1
        Existing driveway
        Tower site 588’ from Smith Road
        North boundary (Antrim Lumber)
        Dark circle – 2 times the tower height
        Closest rear property line – 669 ‘
Sheet C-6
        Smith Road – larger drawing – gravel access drive
        Access road – 12’ wide
        Utilities – standard electric and telephone service
        One utility pole and then underground connections
        Access road will continue into a fenced area
        Leased 100 x 100 area
Sheet C-4
        50 x 50 fenced compound
        Pole in middle
        Antennas installed with co-axial cables – Ice Bridge to equipment shelter
        Shelter – 10 x 20
        3 carrier pole for co-location (as required by Antrim ZO)
        Standard design
        Depiction of monopole – AT&T at top
        Remote radio heads
        Two sites for future antennas – leased space – to be used in accordance with Antrim ZO
        Pole designed for all 3 carriers within pole for co-axial cables

Sheet C-5
There was a question concerning the grade of the driveway (road) – Chair Kendall stated that the Planning Board will review the driveway during the Site Plan Review
        Road is not an access road – only to be used once or twice a month
        Not looking to install road or bring in tons of fill
        Access road will be off of existing driveway – 12’ wide – not critical that the road be straight
Sheet C-2 & C - 3
Tree Survey – extensive survey with every tree on it – 1174 trees of which  less than 100 will be removed
        Average tree canopy is 75’  
        Tower will be within 10’ of tree canopy
        The 3rd locator will be in trees – AT&T would like a greater height

Atty Pare introduced the Radio Frequency engineer, Steve Detack (sp?) who then explained gaps in coverage and radio frequency. He used color graphs to explain how the proposed site will give AT&T the seamless coverage that the company requires for its customers. He stated that there must be clearance above the tree line and that 85’ would be adequate.

Atty Pare stated that the 85’-foot height of the proposed tower complied with the Antrim Zoning Ordinance. A short discussion about the height of the tower ensued.

Chair Kendall stated that according to the application, the antenna array will require a waiver but that would be a Planning Board Site Plan Review issue.

Atty Pare stated that he had hoped that the ZBA and Planning Board public hearings had been open simultaneously (this would have occurred but for a snow storm on the Planning Board meeting of March 1). He asked if the ZBA were interested in a balloon test.

Mr. Haggett thought that the balloon test and the site walk should be Planning Board issues, not the ZBA.

Chair Kendall asked if town owned parcels had been assessed  for a PWSF .

Atty Pare and the Radio Frequency engineer stated that Pleasant Street Water Tower, the Fire station, the Transfer Station/Highway Department complex and the Town Hall tower had all been evaluated and were found not suitable. Atty Pare stated that he would be willing to review each of the town owned facilities if the Board desired.

Atty Pare introduced Andrew Lemay, real estate appraiser, who described his Real Estate Appriasal report of  properties near a cell tower. He stated that the process of evaluation included paired homes and how the visibility of a cell tower would affect the asking price. He discussed other properties that he had appraised and stated that a cell tower in the view shed of a structure had no loss in value and the selling time had not been extended. In summary, he state that the main question is – does the presence of a tower devalue the surrounding properties? He stated that the presence of a cell tower does not devalue the surrounding properties. He added that some of the properties that he had discussed had been listed, marketed, and sold during a PWSF application process similar to what the Town of Antrim is currently experiencing.

Mr. Haggett stated that since a certain percentage of people no longer have land lines, could a buyer be put off because a property did not have good cell coverage.

Mr. Lemay agreed that there could be a paradigm change in the way some people purchase a property.

Atty Pare discussed 4G LTE speed – high speed data and that consumers are the driving demand for fast service.

Chair Kendall stated that the appraised properties were much more “suburban” than the abutters “rural” properties in the proposed parcel. (An abutter had also expressed – the same concern.).

Mr. Lemay said that he had a Maine report that showed rural properties and that the Board could view that report.

There was a question concerning power outages and the effect on the PWSF.

Atty Pare stated that there would be a backup generator.

Atty Pare summarized the AT&T PWSF presentation. He said that the proposed site was a large lot that is heavily treed. Only the top 10-feet of the PWSF will rise above the trees. The 56 Smith Road site makes sense for AT&T and the Town of Antrim.

Chair Kendall stated that he is concerned about two issues – visibility and noise. He would like both visibility and noise to be addressed during the balloon test.

Public Hearing:

Chair Kendall opened the Public Hearing and asked if any abutters who would like to speak in favor of the proposal. There were none.

Chair Kendall asked if there were any abutters who were opposed to the proposal.

Kristen Vance (Abutter)– 36 Smith Road – Ms. Vance read from a prepared letter (available at Town Hall) which had been previously submitted to both land use Boards. Some of her concerns are as follows:

  • A PWSF is not compatible with Antrim’s rural character
  • The application has deficiencies – the applicant failed to establish a change in property values, the study was a suburban study  not a rural study,
  • The noise from the air conditioner and the generator would not allow her to enjoy the sounds of nature on her property
  • The equipment should be placed in an underground facility to minimize the noise factor.
Blasting – how would her property be affected?
A balloon test should be done in a non-leaf situation
Were alternative sites considered – raw land??
Was Smith Road within the FAA restricted area?
Couldn’t the arrays be placed on existing utility poles

Peter & Teri Moore (Abutters) – 55 Clinton Road – Mr. Moore (read from a prepared letter speaking for himself and his wife) stated that he was not speaking for or against the PWSF. He stated that he was pleased for the Litchfields. He stated that he had a few reasonable conditions to mitigate the PWSF’s impact and that the following seven conditions should be added to the Notice of Decision:

  • The Hvac units should incorporate silencers
  • The backup generators should be upgraded to Level 1sound attenuation enclosure attaining a noise reduction to 71dba
  • The generator exercise event should occur on a weekday
  • The landscape should be repaired by applicant
  • Any new owner of the PWSF facility should be required to comply with a major site plan review
  • Eighty-five feet should be the final height
  • No further expansion or outwardly noticeable changes to all initial proposed structuresw, and future lessee structures or expansion of the 50’ x 50’ enclosure, be allowed without Site Plan by the Planning board
Mr. Moore continued by stating that Mr. Lemay’s appraisal report had inconsistencies.

Chair Kendall thanked Mr. Moore and stated that some of his concerns may apply to the Special Exception criteria, but that The Planning Board would deal with other items in their Site Plan Review.

Chair Kendall stated that he felt noise was an important factor.

A discussion concerning noise ensued.

Carter Proctor (Abutter) - 48 Smith Road    He stated that he did not want to listen to a HVAC unit. He explained that he had operated a business which had equipment whose sound could possibly be annoying to a neighbor. He said that he had done all that was possible to mitigate the noise to his neighbor – and had been able to accommodate his neighbor. He would hope that AT&T would be able to do the same for his family.

Atty Pare assured Mr. Proctor that AT&T wanted to be a good neighbor and did not want to alienate potential customers.

Mr. Moore asked about co-location and additional HVAC units.

Atty Pare stated that any co - locators would need to go before the Planning Board for a site plan review and those additional HVAC units would be discussed then.

A question was asked about the suitability of Antrim Lumber as potential cell tower location.

Ms. McManus replied that Antrim Lumber Company may have worked as far as coverage needs, but the site is much less treed and therefore would have greater tower visibility. The Litchfield property offered a greater vegetative buffer.

Chair Kendall continued to express his concern about noise. He asked if he would be able to review the noise reports from the 22 High Street proposed cell tower.

Ms. McManus stated that the reports for the proposed AT&T cell tower of 22 High Street could be made available but that the sites were very different. 22 High Street had numerous close abutters and several of the abutter parcels had treeless yards. The 56 Smith Road property had many trees and the abutters were not as close.

Atty Pare stated that he would get the Board whatever information they would like.

Board members continued to discuss noise, sound tests that had been previously completed, and if noise tests should be done at the current proposed site.

Alternative sites were discussed. Atty Pare stated that none of the other sites met the coverage needs that AT&T required for their customers.

Chair Kendall stated that the TCA of 1996 should be reviewed.

Atty Pare explained that AT&T wants to provide good service without significant gaps and with adequate coverage. If there was an existing structure that met coverage needs, AT&T would definitely use the facility. He had abided by the Antrim Zoning Ordinance and its criteria. He agreed that the tower would not be invisible but felt that the proposal complied with the Zoning Ordinance. He stated that AT&T wanted to place cell towers that worked within the community and that the tower needed to go somewhere.

Chair Kendall stated that the Town of Antrim did not have a sound ordinance. The ZBA would determine if AT&T had met the five criteria necessary to grant the Special Exception. The five criteria(which the  ZBA would determine in deliberation – each criterion must be satisfied) were read by the secretary:

  • The proposed use may be similar to one or more of the uses already authorized in that district and is in an appropriate location for such a use.
  • Such approval would not adversely affect the neighborhood, nor otherwise be injurious, obnoxious or offensive.
  • The use will not create excessive traffic congestion, noise, or odors in the neighborhood where it is proposed.
  • Such approval would be consistent with the intent of the Zoning Ordinance.
  • Adequate and appropriate facilities will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use.

The ZBA members discussed some of the factors that they would need to consider. They discussed the difficulty with determining if property values had decreased because of a PWSF in the neighborhood. They concurred that with  the 22 High Street Real Estate Appraisal reports, they did not feel that any of the appraisals had accurately determined the effect of a PWSF on property values.

Mr. Haggett stated that he felt the ZBA had enough information to deliberate the Special Exception criteria.

Chair Kendall stated that he would like the Zoning board of Adjustment to participate in the  site walk.

Atty Pare repeated that he would get the Board the information that they required.

Dates were discussed. The following dates were set:

        March 22 – PB postponed 1st Public Hearing
        March 31 – Balloon test
        April 1 – Balloon test (alternate date)
        April 3 – ZBA continued Public Hearing
        April 5 – PB continued Public hearing  

Mr. Haggett moved to continue the ZBA Public Hearing to April 3, 2012 at 7PM in the Little Town Hall.

Business Meeting:  

  • Approve Minutes of February 28, 2012  - Mr. Haggett moved to approve the minutes as presented. Mr.  Crafts seconded. The minutes were approved.
At 9:45PM Mr. Crafts moved to adjourn. Mr. Giffin seconded. All approved. The meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted, Diane Chauncey, On Behalf of the Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment

Town of Antrim, NH P.O. Box 517, 66 Main Street Antrim, NH 03440
Phone: (603) 588-6785    Fax: (603) 588-2969    Monday - Thursday 8:00am - 4:00pm
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