WELD — The Appeals Board is expected to consider a building permit for an AT&T cellphone tower approved by the Planning Board in September.

The 190-foot tower would be across from Lost Cove, just before Fire Lane 17 and beyond the Weld Inn on the Phillips Road. AT&T leased the site from Kevin and Holly Cochran last spring.

A star marks the tower location next to Webb Lake in Weld where AT&T plans to build a cellphone tower. The dark area indicates the cellphone coverage expected with the tower. Screenshot

The Weld Cell Tower Information Committee has retained a lawyer to help get the tower moved to another site, member John Stifler wrote in an email last month.

“It’s vital to clarify: We are NOT opposed to the cell tower. We are IN FAVOR of locating it in a less conspicuous viewshed than the one that directly abuts a portion of Mount Blue State Park at the Center Hill picnic area,” committee member Heidi Stowell Nichols wrote in an email Dec. 2.

“The federal government, state government, and nearly a dozen local conservation groups have worked nearly a century to raise millions of dollars to preserve 30,000 acres of what is now called the Mount Blue-Tumbledown Preserved Lands,” Stowell Nichols wrote. “It would be respectful to the historic conservation efforts to uphold the integrity of the landscape and to not locate the 194-foot cell tower structure directly in this viewshed.”

Other members of the committee are Michele Jeffrey, Maurine Miller, Lucia Miller, Louise Law, Sara Shifrin and John Ciopolla.

Stowell Nichols said the Planning Board did not heed the advice provided in an Aug. 28 letter to the board from Weld’s attorney, who specified a tower requires a building permit and must adhere to the town ordinance regulations for commercial and industrial structures.

On Sept. 9, the Planning Board unanimously approved the cellphone tower building application submitted by AT&T/SAI on July 27.

At the meeting, results of an informal survey showed 54.1% of respondents used Verizon, 21.6% U.S. Cellular, 5.4% each used T-Mobile or another carrier, and only 2.7% AT&T. A little more than 10% had no cellphone. Of those wanting a tower in Weld, 54.1% wanted it where there would be no visual impact, while 32.4% preferred it on Saddleback Ridge in Carthage, 8.1% wanted it on Mt. Blue and 5.4% would accept the proposed location with a balloon test.

The group wishing to change the tower’s location has been fundraising and procured over 700 petition signatures on its Change.Org site.

“We’ve been working with landowners, engineers, and photographers to do our own cell coverage studies to demonstrate viable alternate cell tower locations and willing landowners,” Stowell Nichols wrote. “We’ve also been in communication with the Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands,  and Maine Natural Resources Council to seek further support and guidance.”

The Appeals Board has not set a meeting date, pending retention of a different law firm for advice.

The Planning Board held an informational meeting via Zoom videoconferencing about the proposed tower on July 29, which raised many questions and concerns.

decision was tabled at the Aug. 12 meeting pending review of the town’s ordinances by its attorney.

In a Dec. 2 email, AT&T/SAI representative Megan Daly wrote, “We work with the town as we plan new facilities, including cell sites, to find solutions that best meet the needs of our customers there. Our priority is to provide our communities with the connectivity they need and we will continue to make improvements and deliver the best possible experience for our customers in the area.”


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