WILTON — The Appeals Board has upheld the Planning Board’s decision to grant a permit to Hussey Communications to install wireless Internet transmission antennas on an idle Walker Hill home windmill.
The board met Thursday to review an appeal filed by Walker Hill residents Kenneth and Mira Coleman on the November decision.
Board members voted 3-1 that the Planning Board correctly applied the zoning ordinance on this application. Chairman Richard Hall abstained from voting, although he said he supported the motion.
The wind tower, a pre-existing, noncomforming tower, is grandfathered because it was built before the town’s zoning ordinance was created.
Coleman appealed based on his belief that the Planning Board made a mistake granting the permit because of the change of use from its initial purpose. He also referred to town bylaws that include a deference to visual impact or not placing structures so there is an adverse effect on scenic views.
Showing the board photos of the Hussey Communications mast and dish already on the tower, Coleman indicated he “could live with” what’s there now but it’s the potential for additional antennas added to the tower that concerns him. He provided photos of antennas in other towns, an effort to show “what we are and what we’re trying to avoid becoming,” he said.
The windmill has not been in use for several years. Property owners Robert and Nicole Witt had initially considered allowing Central Maine Power to use the tower for smart meter transmissions. Neighbors opposed that use and CMP withdrew its application.
Hussey Communications provides high-speed wireless Internet access to customers throughout central Maine. This antenna would take care of gaps where the company’s other antennas in the area do not reach, owner Paul Hussey told the board. This mast and dish would support about 40 Internet customers with only a few using it now, he said when asked about the potential for adding more antennas to the site. It depends on how business develops, he added.
“This is a good thing,” Robert Witt said. “Hussey can provide high-speed Internet that will benefit families and businesses in Wilton.”
Witt said he feels a 3-inch diameter antenna is “less noxious” than the blades, 24 feet from tip to tip, that were taken down in December.
After the meeting, Coleman said he doesn’t want to see seven antennas on the tower but without support from other neighbors, he wasn’t sure about continuing his opposition.
The next step would involve taking the matter to court.