News Feature

Castine
Web exclusive, October 28, 2010
Cell tower application filed in Castine

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by Jonathan Thomas

Castine residents, who may have seen the 250-foot cell tower recently sprout up across the Bagaduce River in Brooksville, may soon have their own tower to look at. However, if Castine’s tower is issued a permit and is built, it would only be 199-feet tall, have no flashing lights, and be in a less conspicuous location.

The Castine town office has received an application from Florida Tower Partners LLC for a self-supported (lattice) tower to be located on a 100’x100’ leased section of the town-owned 58.5-acre parcel on the Shore Road where the transfer station is located.

The cell tower application will be given its first review at the planning board’s informal work session on Thursday, November 4, according to Code Enforcement Officer Dale Abernethy. It will also be on the agenda for formal consideration at the planning board’s Thursday, November 11, meeting. Both meetings will be at 7 p.m. in Emerson Hall.

The town selectmen entered into a lease agreement with FTP for the tower site in July, pursuant to approval of Article 53 on the March 27 town meeting warrant. That article read, “To see if the Town will authorize the Board of Selectmen to negotiate and enter into a ‘Cell Tower Lease.’”

According to the terms of the lease agreement, the town received $2,000 upon the signing of the agreement, and will receive monthly rental payments for the five-year period of the renewable lease. The monthly rent for the first year is $1,000, and increases annually by 3 percent.

In March 2008, Castine’s zoning ordinance was amended to create a telecommunications tower overlay district. That district was defined as being limited map 8, lot 3 of the town’s tax maps, which is the town-owned transfer station lot. As a result, no cell towers can be located on privately owned property in other parts of town, which has been a controversial issue elsewhere.

Castine’s zoning ordinance required the applicant to file applications under both the “site plan review” and “building and use” portions of the ordinance.

According to John Stevens, FTP’s vice president, construction would begin as soon as possible after the needed permits are issued. The first tenant to use the tower would be AT&T, but other cell phone companies would also be able to lease space on the tower.