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by Jonathan Thomas
The Brooksville Planning Board issued the needed entrance permit September 7 for Global Tower Assets/Partners to begin work on its 190-foot cell tower near the Town House Road. The board voted 5-0 to approve a road that will cross a lot owned by Basil Ladd, according to Code Enforcement Officer Lew Hutchins. The road will lead onto land owned by Richard Bakeman, where the tower will be built.
This tower and a second being built by U.S. Cellular (see accompanying story on page 3), remain the focus of citizen-initiated efforts to enact a town moratorium on cell towers. Such a moratorium would allow the town to enact an ordinance that would give it some control over tower location, and height, and related matters.
These matters were actively discussed at selectmen’s meetings on Thursday, September 2, and again on Wednesday morning, September 8, when approximately 15 people were present.
Selectmen John Gray and Darrell Fowler (with Selectman Richard Bakeman recusing himself) voted to schedule a hearing on Thursday, September 23. Two competing cell tower moratorium ordinances will be presented and discussed, along with questions such as whether the voters should direct the ordinance review committee to draft ordinances regulating cell towers and wind turbines.
The selectmen also voted to set Thursday, October 7, as a tentative date for a town meeting at which the town could vote on these items.
Gray said during the two-hour meeting on September 8 that he was unable to answer many of the procedural questions because Diane O’Connell, the town’s attorney, had not yet responded to his questions.
Several citizens, including Lake Larson, expressed concern about the number of towers being built, or proposed, without the town having any say in the matter. She said the town needs to “rethink this” and that what the town needs is “one good tower.”
Resident Darene Powell said it is “important to have connectivity,” and that from her experience as an emergency responder, what’s at stake is a safety issue. She said that she herself has a contract for a tower. Other people at the selectmen’s meeting said they know of others with contracts who have not gone public.
Larson and others said that no one they know is against having good cell phone service. Their concern is in the number of towers and their locations.
Also noted at the selectmen’s meeting was that September 8 was the second Wednesday of the month, the date that had previously been planned for a joint meeting of the Brooksville and Sedgwick selectmen to discuss Walker Pond access. Some members of Friends of Walker Pond were there. Gray acknowledged that his board and the Sedgwick selectmen (who were not present) had not carefully checked their calendars, so that the joint meeting was rescheduled to Wednesday, September 15, at 9 a.m. at the Brooksville town meeting.