Planning Board - Minutes: February 19, 2014


The meeting convened at 7:00 PM at the Town House; regular members present were Waine Whittier, Alan Williams, Ed Lawless, Austin Harrell, and Creston Gaither.  Also present were Jonathan Lawless, Blaine Hopkins and attorney Andy Hamilton and their Court Reporter. Blaine Hopkins is an employee of ATC Realty, a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Tower Partners (GTP). Andrew Hamilton is counsel for GTP. Creston had advertised this  rescheduled date and time for this meeting, the rescheduling having been requested by GTP and the Board having agreed to this as a courtesy. Ed agreed that he would remain recused from the "cell tower" deliberations.

Minutes of the January 22 meeting were read  and accepted.

With regard to GTP's  "cell tower" application, Andy referenced  Table 1, "Summary of Visual Impact Report" and said the rolling topography of Vienna means there is nearly nowhere where the tower would have no visual impact at all. He said that a site closer to Flying Pond or at a higher elevation might change a few of the "no's" in the application to "yes's." He does not think Section 7.2.E. addresses visual impact but is limited to safety concerns. He said that conflicts with residential property uses are inevitable for contemporary towers and that GTP has done all that it can to find an adequate site without the impact that the proposed site would have but that they've had no success.

Waine noted that the 300 feet figure on page 9 of GTP's latest memo conflicts with a 253 feet figure given elsewhere. Blaine conceded that 253 feet is the more correct figure. He agreed that there is nowhere on the proposed  site parcel where the tower could be  made to meet the setback requirements of Vienna's "Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Siting Ordinance" (hereinafter 'the Ordinance.').

Andy said that there is pending litigation regarding GTP's proposed Mount Vernon site; he noted  a possible conflict of interest among Planning Board members in Rome (where GTP also has an application pending), some Rome Board members being members of  Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, which opposes the application. There is thus some uncertainty as to how the Rome and Mount Vernon applications will be resolved.

The Board agreed to use Andy's letter to Waine dated Feb. 12 as a convenient outline for its deliberations.

The Board found that GTP had met the requirements of  Section 7.2A. of the Ordinance as to Priority of Location.

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2.B. that Vienna be included in the primary coverage area.

The Board found that GTP had met the requirements of Sect. 7.2.D. as to height.Consideration of Sect. 7.2.E. "Setbacks" was postponed temporarily.

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2.F, "Landscaping."

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2.G. "Fencing."

As no lighting is required the Board found that Sect. 7.2. H. is not applicable in the present case.

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2.I, "Color and Materials"  by proposing neutral colors.

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2. J, "Structural Standards" as 3 licensed engineers have approved the proposed structure.

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2. K, "Visual Impact" as the Ordinance is specific to sites identified in the Comprehensive Plan and not nearby residences. However, the Board voted 4 - 0 that it believes that the proposed site meets the visual impact provisions of Sect. K but finds that Sect. K 1. F is an onerous provision as it would require  testing every site in Town.

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2. L, "Noise"

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2. M, "Historic & Archaeological Properties."

The Board found that GTP had met the requirement of Sect. 7.2. N, "Environmental Impact." by proposing minimal excavation  and presenting a suitable Erosion Control Plan.

As to Sect. 7.2.E. "Setbacks:" the aforementioned letter of Feb. 12  reiterates a request for exemption from the setback requirements of the Ordinance.  Waine read a document outlining his thoughts and pointing out specific safety hazards which would pertain to a  collapse of the proposed structure. He said that because the abutting property is residential such risks should be considered conservatively and that the word "may" in the Ordinance should be construed to allow the Board thus to deny the exception. Andy said he would like to have engineers address  Waine's concerns and that there is always some risk.

Waine asked whether GTP would consider writing to abutter Charlene Stevens offering to buy an easement that would allow them to move the tower somewhat  easterly so that it would conform. Alan said he'd be willing to deliver such a letter to Mrs. Stevens in his capacity as an old friend of hers and not as a representative of either the Planning Board or GTP. Andy and Blaine said they'd be willing to try this.

Blaine said doing this would likely require an additional two months. The Board therefore  voted  4 - 0 to table the application until the end of April.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.

 Creston Gaither, secretary                

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