The Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously denied a special permit for a proposed 190-foot monopole-style telecommunications tower facility on High Street that close neighbors had crowded the hearing room for over a month of meetings to oppose.
The High Street neighbors barely restrained themselves from applauding during the May 4 public meeting, as Industrial Tower and Wireless LLC lost its bid for a permit to reduce the required setback distance of 200 feet from other property lines by 50 percent or to 100 feet for the High Street lot.
Company representative Kevin Delaney said simply “stay tuned” when asked by a reporter what the company would do next in response to the denial.
Attorney Donald Nagle, who had presented the board a petition signed by 54 neighbors voicing their opposition to the tower plan, clarified that the petitioner now has the right to appeal in a court of law but wasn’t sure how fast that would happen. (Industrial Tower and Wireless LLC attorney Jeffrey Angley attended the meeting via Zoom.)
Rochester Town Counsel Blair Bailey began the meeting by noting the only criteria under federal law the board could use to make their decision on the permit.
“Number one,” Bailey said, “does it cover a gap?” They had to have demonstrated to you there is no alternative site. The local authority, this board, can’t have the effect of denying coverage.
In their deliberations before the vote, all five board members present had the same comment, that this was one of the hardest board decisions they ever had to make.
Board member Jeffrey Costa said he had doubts there was no alternative sites since the lot lines in question are under a new property owner who has said through his attorney that he does not know what he wants to do with the property.
Board member Thomas Flynn noted the attorneys on both sides have been skilled in the art of persuasion, but the commission’s job is to protect the town’s natural resources and minimize adverse impacts to the quality of life in town.
“In descending order, number five, the least important criteria is ‘no other sites,’” Flynn said. “We have to be very strict and careful here. We can only vote approval if we find the project is in harmony with the town and within the intent of the bylaw. That is the reason I will vote against. They have not met that standard. There is another site. The owner owns both parcels of land.”
As is standard practice with a zoning-board decision, Flynn motioned a positive recommendation, to grant the permit with restrictions for a 25-year lease and bonding to pay for removal of the facility should the operation close.
All five members who were present, Costa, Flynn, David Arancio, Richard Cutler and Donald Spirlet, proceeded to vote against the motion, denying the permit.
Arancio, the ZBA chairman, then announced the standard 20-day appeal period for parties to file an objection to the decision.
The Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals’ next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 9, at 6:30 pm.
Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals
By Michael J. DeCicco