This is not intended to rehash the past 16 months of the Otisfield cell tower saga, but to identify the simplistic cause and results of this episode. I am also speaking out with my selectman’s hat removed and these are my own basic observations as a resident of the great town in which I live.

If anyone cares to delve into the finite details of what has happened in the past 17 months, there is a great deal of documentation available. This includes the Planning Board minutes and findings of fact, public hearing, appeals board minutes, and the town website, as well as documents and briefing to and from the court.

Usually when a lawsuit is filed there is what could be called a winner. In the case of the “friends,” there is none. All of the residents of Otisfield remain at risk for their safety, health and property due to the lack of adequate communications.

Instead of having these critical communications up and operating at this time, we have a cell phone provider that has, as of May 7, 2013, withdrawn its application for the construction of a cell tower in Otisfield.

On May 8, 2013, the Oxford County Superior Court dismissed the case and all outstanding motions as being moot.

Not only will the town not have the benefit of improved cell phone reception and 4G LTE high speed data, but without the addition of a repeater for the benefit of the fire department, first responders and highway department, the ability to even communicate in numerous parts of the town remains nonexistent.

That is the result.

Having attended each and every Planning Board meeting, public hearing, appeal and court proceeding, I believe that the town-specified criteria for the construction of the cell tower were met. That is not to say that the ordinance could not stand some changes, but the permit was approved under the town-approved ordinance of record.

One only needs to check the caliber of town personnel serving on the Planning Board and appeals board to see that their commitment and honesty is beyond reproach. These citizens spend their own time and efforts to make this town the place in which we choose to live, and they should be commended rather than criticized.

If one goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a license and passes the written and driver test, then he/she gets a driver’s license. Would it be appropriate for another to challenge the results just because they didn’t agree with the current approved testing?

I think not.

If a procedure needs changes, then change it before an applicant is approved rather than using smoke and mirrors to try and confuse the results after the fact.

Scribner Hill/Cobb Hill Area, quite possibly, has the best cell phone reception in Otisfield. A current signal strength test with my cell phone indicated three to five bars.

Based upon the geographic location of the “friends,”  one could perhaps make a case for “not in my back yard” and “I’ve got cell phone reception.”

In reality, however, we all share the same dilemma. That dilemma is when help doesn’t arrive in response to the 911 call because it is not received by the first responder or the fire department as a result of failure to communicate.

Hal Ferguson is chairman of the board of selectmen for the town of Otisfield.


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