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Cell tower company to withdraw lawsuit against Bedford

BEDFORD — Local officials have been informed that a company seeking to construct a controversial cell tower near Riddle Brook Elementary School will withdraw its pending lawsuit and terminate its lease.

Crown Castle Towers previously filed a civil lawsuit in the US. District Court, claiming that the Bedford Zoning Board of Adjustment unlawfully denied its application for a special exception and variance to construct a 190-foot tower at 77 Chubbuck Road where the town’s transfer station sits.

Last week, the town’s attorney was notified by representatives of Crown Castle Towers that it will no longer pursue the proposed project, which has garnered more than 300 signatures in opposition.

“We have received official notification that is their intention,” Town Manager Rick Sawyer said on Wednesday, stressing that he has not yet seen an actual filing with the court or a lease termination document.

Last fall, the Zoning Board rejected the proposed cell tower project — nearly a year after former Town Manager Steve Daly prematurely entered into a memorandum of option and ground lease agreement with Castle Towers to lease a portion of town property for the wireless communications facility.

Although the Town Council did not initially give Daly authority to execute the lease, town officials did, last October, ratify the lease, along with a companion authorization that was also previously executed by Daly without the council’s review.

Crown Castle had already entered into a separate agreement with Verizon Wireless to co-locate on the facility.

Denise Ricciardi of Bedford has been fighting against the cell tower for more than a year, and also intervened in the civil lawsuit in federal court.

“I beat corporate Crown Castle. They backed out,” Ricciardi said on Wednesday. “I said all along that this tower is not going to go in.”

Although Ricciardi is happy about the news, she does understand that the potential exists for another company to propose a similar project near the school and her neighborhood.

“I won’t stop. They will just have to keep dealing with me,” said Ricciardi, who was at the polls on Election Day gathering signatures for her petition urging town officials to prohibit the cell tower on Chubbuck Road.

Sawyer acknowledged that “more than one company” has contacted him in the past 10 days expressing interest in not only the Chubbuck Road town-owned property, but another unidentified town-owned property as well.

“It is premature to mention the companies by name,” he said, explaining the Town Council needs to have a general discussion about whether it is interested in leasing public property to any communication companies.

Sawyer expects the matter to be placed on the agenda for the Town Council’s next meeting later this month.

Fire officials said previously that the communications tower on Chubbuck Road is critical for the town’s public safety, maintaining there are areas in Bedford where radio communication does not work, and there are dead zones in the Chubbuck Road area.

“It raises the conversation to yet another level when it is on public land,” Sawyer said of proposed cell towers, adding it deserves further review by the Town Council.

Ricciardi says she will not stop fighting, and hopes to collect even more signatures and gather dozens or potentially hundreds of residents opposed to a tower on Chubbuck Road to attend the next council meeting to voice concerns.

“Everybody needs to show up, put this issue to bed and not entertain a new application,” she said.

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