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December 28. 2012 10:16PM

Derry zoning board approves more antennas for cell tower

DERRY - The Zoning Board of Adjustments recently approved the addition of three antennas to a 180-foot communications tower on Warner Hill Road despite the objections of several abutters.

The antennas required a special exception from the ZBA because the tower is considered a legal existing, nonconforming use. It is in a zone that does not allow communications towers, but was built before the town's current ordinances concerning such towers were enacted.

The tower itself is owned by SBA Properties, which leases out space to several cellular communications companies, including ATT.

ATT was looking to add three antennas to its existing six on the tower in order to improve 4G service to the town, according to ATT representative Michael Johnson. Overall, there are about 30 antennas of various sizes on the tower.

"Typically, when there is an upgrade like this, there is a corresponding change to equipment on the ground," Johnson said. "The plan is to place the few equipment racks in the equipment shelter that is already on the ground."

The additional antennas won't affect the height of the tower and there won't be any changes to the site, he said.

When asked how often there will be people onsite by ZBA member Ernest Osborne, Johnson said technicians typically only visit once per month.

"A site like this is remotely monitored by ATT," he said.

The landowner who leases some of her property to SBA for the tower said there is constant traffic and noise associated with the tower and she does not want any more antennas added. "The noise level out there is horrible," said Alice Boucher. "When the wind blows and the antennas start to sing, it gets old. If they put up any more antennas, they are going to hear it in downtown Derry very soon."

She also noted that there is no road to the tower and that the right of way runs through her driveway.

"If it was up to me, I would take a stick of dynamite and take care of it once and for all," Boucher said.

ZBA chairman Allan Virr noted that the Federal Telecommunications Act makes it very difficult for the board to turn down a request for additional antennas if there is a demonstrated need.



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