Cell tower construction irks neighbors

RUMFORD — Some residents on Franklin and Knox streets are upset about the lack of communication concerning construction of a cellphone tower at 423 Franklin St.

Erin Cox/Sun Journal

A worker runs line through a U.S. Cellular tower at 423 Franklin St. in Rumford.  Homeowners are upset about the cell tower and the lack of communication regarding its construction.

Erin Cox/Sun Journal

U.S. Cellular is constructing a 80-foot cell tower at 423 Franklin St. in Rumford.  Surrounding homeowners are upset over the project and lack of information given before the tower was erected.

The initial construction started more than a month ago with the excavation of a large hole. Neighbors said they were unaware that a cellphone tower was being constructed. On Aug. 13, when a large cylinder was raised, questions started coming from homeowners on what was moving in next door.

The 80-foot-tall U.S. Cellular tower is behind the apartment building at 423 Franklin St., directly across from Rumford Hospital. The tower stands approximately 20 feet away from the apartment building, which is next to medical offices and residential homes.

Linda Inglis, who lives two buildings down from the tower, noticed it on Sunday while driving home.

"I couldn't believe we weren't informed on what was being built," she said. "I think there should be laws in place to at least inform citizens when something like this is being built in the neighborhood."

Rick Kent, Rumford's code enforcement officer, said no such laws exist. The property owner and U.S. Cellular followed all regulations for building the tower. The project did not require any permits from the town. 

According to town ordinances, no restrictions currently exist on the height of a tower if its base is under 200 square feet.

"The cell tower's base is below that," Kent said. "The only requirement is through the FAA so a structure does not interfere with any aircraft."

Rumford also has no land use zoning ordinances for business or residential areas. Such an ordinance would set limitations on what land could be used for.

Sandra Witas, who lives behind the cell tower, asked a construction worker at the site about the project before the tower went up.

"I went over to actually ask for some of the red tape they were using to line the property. I just asked what they were building and was shocked to learn it was a cell tower," Witas said.

She talked to a maintenance worker for the apartment building, who explained it would be similar to a flagpole. "We should have at least been notified. I'm worried about the health risks, my property value, a lot of different things," she said.

U.S. Cellular representatives said they do not have a policy for contacting surrounding businesses or homeowners about the construction of a cell tower. They said normally the town is notified through the process of obtaining permits.

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Comments

Landowners

Who have agreements with First wind should jump on this band wagon. Private property no ordinance regulations.

Ed McCaffrey's picture

Congratulations

to the property owner, who was wise enough to find a use for his property that generates a continual income for him/her. I wish I had thought of it myself.

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