January 24. 2017 12:22AM

Cell tower proposed on residential property in Bedford

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent


A cell tower is being proposed for this residential property at 25 Tirrell Road in Bedford. (COURTESY)

BEDFORD — Local officials are reviewing a proposal to construct a new cell tower on residential property along Tirrell Road — just two months after a different carrier withdrew its application for a similar facility in town.

American Tower Corp. and T-Mobile Northeast LLC are seeking permission to build a wireless telecommunications facility at 25 Tirrell Road. The zoning board is considering the applicant’s project, which will sit on a residential parcel owned by Richard and Elizabeth Morgan.

Last week, Attorney William Dodge of the law firm Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC presented the proposal to zoning officials, stressing the need for a new tower in the southern portion of town.

“The basic purpose of this facility is to try to improve T-Mobile’s coverage in areas of southern Bedford,” said Dodge, adding the project would enhance coverage along County Road, Wallace Road and Back River Road, and at some local schools.

Dodge is recommending the construction of a brown, 150-foot monopole telecommunications tower to help resolve instances of dropped calls and a significant gap in wireless coverage in this vicinity, specifically inside of vehicles and buildings. If approved, it would include six panel antennas that would increase the height of the tower by about four feet.

“The facility will benefit residential and business customers living, working and commuting to and from the town, as well as visitors ...,” states the proposed plan on file at town hall. “A wider range of advanced services, including internet access, video and other forms of data exchange, is the expected norm among today’s consumers. These usage trends for smartphones in particular are expected to increase exponentially in the coming decade.”

Some neighbors voiced concerns last week about the proposal, including its aesthetics, the construction process, possible blasting in the area, the chance for decreased property values, interference with ham radios and more.

According to Dodge, several alternative locations were considered, but this site, he said, offers an ideal location and has a property owner willing to lease the property.

He said the tower will not be visible from most residential areas, with the exception of Tirrell Road and Stephanie Drive nearby.

However, Karin Elmer, town planner, said in a memo to the zoning board that the height of the proposed tower would “far surpass surrounding trees in height, which are approximately 55-feet tall.”

There are currently seven communication towers in Bedford. Co-locating onto some of those towers was considered, but ultimately would not improve coverage in the area necessary, according to Dodge.

A second test will be conducted with a large air balloon next month, which will provide zoning officials and neighbors the opportunity to help identify potential visual impacts from the project. The balloon will rise 150 feet from the proposed site from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 6.

The zoning board is expected to vote on the project Feb. 21. The project will still need to be considered by the planning board and reviewed by a third-party consultant.

Two months ago, Crown Castle Towers withdrew its pending lawsuit against the zoning board, which claimed the board unlawfully denied its application for a special exception and variance to construct a 190-foot cell tower at 77 Chubbuck Road.

khoughton@newstote.com