News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 20, 2011
Deer Isle Cell tower activation promised in “near future” Permit issued for taller 250-foot tower

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Cell tower off the North Deer Isle Road

Those looking for a signal from the cell tower off the North Deer Isle Road will have to wait a bit longer, say representatives from AT&T.

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by Jonathan Thomas

As frustrated cell phone users await the activation of the cell tower erected many months ago on the North Deer Isle Road, the Town of Deer Isle has just issued a permit for a new tower on the Sunset Cross Road on land owned by Calvin Cousins (map 3, lot 48). According to the application filed and approved on October 13, work on that tower is estimated to begin in May 2012 and be completed in July that year.

The latest word on the existing tower is that it will be activated in the “near future.” Meaghan Wims, spokesperson for AT&T told Island Ad-Vantages on October 17 that she doesn’t yet have an exact date.

One reason for the delay in the tower’s activation was that the necessary connection to land-based systems was not made until early this month. FairPoint Communications’ installation maintenance manager in Ellsworth, Frank Sylvian, said last week that his company has completed the fiber optic connection and testing, and that it is now up to AT&T to complete the final steps to activate the tower.

The federal height limit for an unlighted tower is 200 feet. The existing tower is 190 feet tall, and is unlighted. The newly permitted tower, to be operated by U.S. Cellular, will be 250 feet tall. (In comparison, the towers on the nearby suspension bridge are 213 feet tall.) The new tower will be lighted because it is taller than the federal limit.

As reported in the June 24 edition of Island Ad-Vantages, Deer Isle does not have an ordinance specifically regulating cell towers. The latest permit, a generic building permit for structures not in the shoreland district, was issued by First Selectman Neville Hardy in his role as building inspector. There is no requirement that he confer either with the other selectmen or the planning board.

According to the plans sent from Black Diamond Consultants of Gardiner on behalf of U.S. Cellular, the new lattice tower will have a triangular cross-section and not require guy-cables. It will be set on a ridgeline with an elevation greater than 100 feet, within a 100-foot square plot of land leased from Cousins. The estimated cost of the tower is $175,000.