BEDFORD — Zoning officials have paved the way for a new cell tower to be constructed inside of a silo along Wallace Road, despite concerns from nearby residents.
On Tuesday, the Zoning Board of Adjustment granted a special exception to install a telecommunications facility inside of a silo on farmland at 5 Wallace Rd., and to construct a replacement silo that will camouflage the antenna equipment.
“We have shown that there is a gap in coverage,” said Victor Manougian, an attorney with the McLane Middleton law firm representing Verizon Wireless.
According to Manougian, the new cell tower will enable Verizon to provide better coverage and compete with other carriers. He maintained that the facility will not alter the neighborhood because a silo already exists on the property; the old silo will be replaced with a new silo that will stand 20 feet higher.
Several neighbors voiced opposition to the project, saying they had concerns about their health, impact to property values and noise.
“This thing is going to be a monstrosity,” said Steve Crowley of 12 Summit Rd., whose property sits directly behind the silo.
He said the new cell tower will negatively impact his home and other residences on Summit Road, which sits within the Greenfield Farms development.
“I am pretty sure once it is up no one is going to notice it is 20 feet higher than it used to be,” said Manougian.
Mike Sorvillo of 8 Summit Rd. said his biggest fear is the unknown, specifically what information is not being shared with neighbors or the Zoning Board about the project.
“We are not hearing all of the details on this,” said Sorvillo.
He stressed that the noise coming from the industrial-sized air conditioners that will be installed on the tower’s equipment shed will be disruptive during the summer months.
Another local resident, Doug Libby of 2 Swenson Rd., said he has major health concerns about having a telecommunications tower about 300 feet away from his bedroom window.
Although he has a Verizon phone and would appreciate stronger coverage, Libby said he fears for children in the area who will have numerous years, possibly a lifetime, of potential radiation exposure.
Manougian told the board that it cannot deny the application for a wireless facility based on “potential health risks that you may think.”
“In looking at safety, the federal government does pre-empt a lot of what we can or can’t do. Which, whether we like it or not, we are bound by what the law is and how to enforce it,” said Len Green, Zoning Board member. “We may not be happy with it, but that is not our choice.”
Chairman John Morin echoed those sentiments, telling residents that the board is required by law, in this case the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, to follow certain guidelines and state statutes.
“We don’t make our decisions by feelings,” added Morin.
John Russell of 19 Summit Rd. said he and his neighbors paid a premium to live in a destination neighborhood, urging the board to reject the proposal.
The board ultimately approved the project. The construction of the new silo will still be reviewed by the Planning Board.