Freedom — November 12, 2010 Freedom residents should look for a big red weather balloon flying over the town on Saturday. The balloon marks the area where a proposed cell tower would be located. About 20 residents are already objecting to the tower.
The balloon will fly in the area of 53 Moulton Road. It will be flown from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. A rain date has been scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 20. The balloon will fly 175 feet high, the height of the proposed monopole tower.
The project is being proposed by a Florida-based company called North Atlantic Towers, which is represented by attorney Jonathan Springer of Springer Law Office of Portsmouth. The tower would have room for six telecommunications carriers, including ATT Mobility, which is currently trying to provide service to Freedom.
Having the tower in that location would lessen the need for other carries to look for other sites in Freedom, according to the Project Narrative and Variance Request that Springer filed with the town. The monopole would be located in a 75-by-75-foot fenced compound within a 37-acre piece of property owned by Nina Warren.
On Oct. 26, Springer sought two variances from Freedom Zoning Board of Adjustment. One variance would have given the company relief from a requirement that the company survey the tree canopy height of all trees over 20 feet tall within a 150-foot radius of the mount. The other regulation limits the height of such a tower to 10 feet higher than the average tree canopy height.
Springer argued that a balloon test would eliminate the need for a tree canopy survey, and the height restriction would render the plan unworkable if it’s not amended.
“Limiting the height of the tower to only 10 feet above the average height will mean that the antennas will literally be in the trees making it impossible to propagate the radio frequency signals,” wrote Springer.
But the zoning board decided the balloon test and the tree canopy survey are necessary. Members will discuss the results at their meeting on Dec. 28.
Several residents and abutters appeared at the Oct. 26 meeting to object to proposed cell tower. Among the strongest objections came from Laurie Morrow, who expressed her concerns verbally and in a written statement.
Morrow, who is an outdoor writer, noted that Freedom was home to the late Corey Ford, who wrote “The Road to Tinkhamtown,” which she considers one of the greatest hunting stories of all time.
“You put your tower up in Tinkhamtown and your company’s public relations office won’t know what hit them,” wrote Morrow who was concerned about the impact on wildlife and human health. “If you do, my editor at Field & Stream will be the first to know about it and I’m quite certain will publish my open letter in the pages of the magazine whose readership exceeds 20 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if it stirs up a grassroots boycott against your company.”
Resident June Morris was concerned about the tower diminishing the town’s ambiance, which could impact property values up to 20 percent, she said according to meeting minutes. Morris presented the zoning board with a list of 22 signatures from people who are also against the proposed tower.
Petitioners’ concerns are about radioactivity from the tower, impact on well water (water from the hillside is a source their well water), the visual impact, and noise from construction and operation of the tower. The petition states the tower would create a “ceaseless humming noise.”
But not everyone objected.
Selectman Neal Boyle spoke in favor of the project but he agreed the tree survey and the balloon test need to be done. Boyle added that the project would be safe according to federal guidelines. Resident Dean Robinson said he’s in favor of the project because better cell service is needed in town.
Springer addressed many of the residents’ concerns in his Project Narrative and Variance Requests. He wrote that granting the variances wouldn’t lead to diminished property values because “the heavy tree cover will effectively screen the tower from view.” The tower will not be dangerous because it will comply with federal regulations, he said in the narrative. Further, the cell phone coverage would be a benefit to residents, business people and anyone traveling through the area.
The project narrative states there will be no impact on abutting properties and little or no impact on town services. Springer told residents he didn’t expect the construction would require blasting, according to meeting minutes.