WELD — A presentation on AT&T’s proposed installation of a 190 foot cellphone tower was met with lots of questions and concerns during a meeting via Zoom Wednesday night, July 29.

AT&T has submitted a building permit application to install a cell phone tower in Weld to improve reception. This screenshot shows current cell phone reception. Screenshot

Planning Board Chairman Naomi Doughty said there is nothing in Weld’s ordinances to prohibit

At a meeting Wednesday night, July 29, AT&T shared information on the 190 foot cell phone tower being proposed in Weld. This screenshot shows cell phone coverage with the tower. Screenshot

the tower. The only reason a building permit is needed is because the tower is more than 10 feet tall, she added.

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 had submitted the application and fee at the town office Monday.

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

The tower will be located across from Lost Cove, just before Fire Lane 17 and beyond the Weld Inn on the Phillips Road. AT&T has already leased the site from residents Kevin and Holly Cochran. Weld would have a spot on the tower and three other cell phone companies could use the tower.

“Having the lease plays no part in this,” Marchand said.

“The site was not selected based on that,” attorney Ted Small added.

The tower won’t have the wide arms seen on older towers. It won’t have any lights on it.

Diagram of the 190 foot cellphone tower AT&T plans to install in Weld. Screenshot

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

“We tried to situate the tower in the best location. Other locations in town are not on the table,” he said.

One attendee asked about disguising the tower, 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, Small said. “Dedicated service for first responders can be very important in an emergency.”

Federal telecommunication laws prohibits/prevents local zoning ordinances from prohibiting telecommunication companies from closing gaps in service, he noted.

Why haven’t environmental impact studies been done was asked.

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

The benefit to those with landlines was also asked.

“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. If an accident happens, there’ll be no service there,” Marchand said.

Smaller towers provide less service meaning that two towers might be needed for the same coverage, Marchand said when the height was questioned.

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

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

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