19 Aug 2014
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ZBA Puts T-Mobile Cell Towers on Hold

The Zoning Board of Appeals seeks an independent consultant conducts analysis.

ZBA Puts T-Mobile Cell Towers on Hold ZBA Puts T-Mobile Cell Towers on Hold ZBA Puts T-Mobile Cell Towers on Hold

The Zoning Board of Appeals remain outside T-Mobile's "Fave 5" following .

The five-member group heard T-Mobile Northeast representatives voice their case to build a cell phone tower at the building at 297 High St, but the ZBA disconnected the plan - at least for the time being.

The board decided to seek an independent consultant before it discusses the matter further. The advisor will work with T-Mobile on the town's behalf.

"We will work with the applicant to get as much data and exhaust as many remedies as we can," ZBA chairman James McGrail said.

T-Mobile spokespeople made a presentation to the board to build a 30-foot high tower atop the AliMed building. 

T-Mobile Northeast attorney Martin Cohen emphasized the new structure could improve in-building coverage and vehicle communications in the area. In addition, the tower could eliminate a "significant gap in coverage," cell phone issues from a network's geographic size, its number of users and its communications quality.

But McGrail expressed concerns regarding the tower's height, noting the system could become an "eyesore" in the East Dedham community. Cohen anticipated the building could reach 67 feet in height following the tower's completion.

"That's more than the equivalent of a six-story building," McGrail said. "It's more like a seven-story building."

Cohen said the tower would be built on the building's upper roof, which is a necessity to avoid radio signal obstructions.

"If we had a really tall building, that'd be great," Cohen said. "But we don't."

Cohen told the board that T-Mobile has considered at least seven alternative sites for a cell phone tower, including the current , at 270 Bussey St. and . 

But McGrail noted the cell phone carrier's analysis failed to include areas outside Dedham's Wireless Communications Services Overlay District, the boundary which accommodates necessary wireless infrastructure while protecting residents from the facilities' impact. 

"The overlay district is a big district," McGrail told Cohen. "You didn't tell me what the overlay district looks like."

Board of Selectmen chairman Jim MacDonald, who attended the meeting, said the town has established bylaws to help the ZBA deal with these matters.

"I think the town creates overlay districts for a reason," MacDonald said, "and that is because town meeting determines where things should be established and where they should go."

MacDonald said he would like to see the cell phone tower built outside Dedham.

"My hope is [T-Mobile] can find a location in Boston to satisfy their needs," MacDonald told the board. 

The board could continue discussion at its July 20 meeting, and will join forces with T-Mobile to find the best possible solution. 

"We like it when you work with us," McGrail told Cohen. "That's what we like to do."

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