ROCKLAND, Maine ― The city’s planning board has rejected a proposal to erect a 120-foot tall cellphone tower on Route 1.
After a two-and-a-half-hour meeting on Tuesday night, Rockland Planning Board Chair Erik Lausten explained the decision, saying the project would be “injurious” to the surrounding area.
The proposal from Bay Communications LLC and North East Wireless Communications, an AT&T affiliate, drew sharp criticism from residents of neighboring subdivision, Pen Bay Acres, and prompted city officials to consider stricter regulations on the height and locations of cellphone towers.
“I can’t think of too many people who would want to live next to a cell tower,” one Pen Bay Acres resident said.
Residents of Pen Bay Acres worried that the monopole tower would obstruct views of Penobscot Bay and cause their property values to decrease. But a consultant hired by the city and paid for by the communications companies issued a report to the planning board Tuesday night disputing that claim.
The consultant Fred Bucklin looked at the selling prices of homes located next to three other cellphone towers in the city and found none suffered from declining values.
Many in attendance, including some members of the planning board, questioned the accuracy of Bucklin’s report.
John Springer, an attorney representing the communications companies, said if the planning board continues to reject proposals for cell towers located in the commercial area of Route 1, they will effectively create a prohibition on these towers in an area where there is a gap in coverage.
Springer said the companies’ only recourse would be taking the city to court, however, he stopped short of saying whether this would happen.
Next month, the Rockland City Council will be taking a final vote on an ordinance that would limit the height of cellphone towers to 100-feet and restrict them from being located within 1,000 feet of a residential neighborhood.
“This is about aesthetics in the city of Rockland,” Geiger said at a council workshop last month. “These are 12-story towers, so it’s really about what criteria should the city use to determine where to put cell towers so we are not inadvertently creating an aesthetic nightmare.”