AT&T has submitted a building permit application to install a cellphone tower in Weld. A star marks the tower location next to Webb Lake. The dark area indicates the current coverage area for cellphone reception. Screenshot

AT&T has submitted a building permit application to install a cellphone tower in Weld. A star marks the tower location next to Webb Lake. The dark area indicates the cellphone coverage area with the tower. Screenshot

WELD — A presentation on AT&T’s proposal to install a 190-foot cellphone tower raised lots of questions and concerns during a Planning Board meeting via Zoom Wednesday night.

Board Chairman Naomi Doughty said there is nothing in Weld’s ordinances to prohibit the tower. The only reason a building permit is needed is because the tower is more than 10 feet tall, she said.

More than two dozen people attended and 44 chats were shared. The meeting lasted more than an hour.

AT&T representative Peter Marchand said he submitted the application and fee Monday.

“As seen, the tower fills in a lot of the area currently without service,” he said.

The tower will be across from Lost Cove, just before Fire Lane 17 and beyond the Weld Inn on the Phillips Road. AT&T has leased the site from Kevin and Holly Cochran.

Weld would have a spot on the tower, as well as three other cellphone companies.

The tower won’t have the wide arms seen on older towers or lights.

There are no plans to build the tower higher, but if that were to happen lights would be needed, Marchand said.

One attendee asked about disguising the tower to make it look like a tree.

“We can’t hide it, make it invisible,” Marchand said. “It will be seen. We’ve put it in a spot with minimal impact. Putting the tower smack in town by the Town Office isn’t what anyone would want.”

One person asked what the benefits to the town would be, besides cellphone reception.

“In addition to the assessed value, it would provide better service for individuals and businesses, people going to and from work,” Marchand said. “It will offer more service for customers.”

“It adds safety for Weld residents, those passing through,” attorney Ted Small said. “Dedicated service for first responders can be very important in an emergency.”

Federal telecommunication law prohibits local zoning ordinances from keeping telecommunication companies from closing gaps in service, he noted.

Some wanted to know why environmental impact studies haven’t been done.

“We can’t move forward until the building permit is obtained,” Marchand said. “Impact studies, surveys, come later.”

The benefit to those with landlines was also questioned.

“In the middle of Lake Webb or on the Phillips Road where the tower will be that lacks service, a landline won’t help you,” Marchand said. “If an accident happens, there’ll be no service there.”

Smaller towers provide less service, meaning that two towers might be needed for the same coverage, Marchand said in response to a question about height.

“We’ll be considering the application at the next Planning Board meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12,” Doughty said.

The meeting will likely be held via Zoom, she said.

Diagram of the 190-foot cellphone tower AT&T proposed to erect in Weld. Screenshot

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