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

WELD — The Board of Appeals voted unanimously Monday night to send the AT&T cellphone tower application back to the Planning Board.

The Planning Board considered the application during an informational meeting in July. Several comments, complaints and questions were raised then.

The board met in August to review the application, but no decision was made. The application was approved at the September meeting.

“The Planning Board needs to press the reset button,” attorney Steven Wagner of Rudman-Winchell in Bangor said.

“Grant the appeal, vacate the Planning Board’s decision and remand back to the Planning Board to conduct a new hearing,” the representative for the Weld Cell Phone Tower Information Committee said.

The Planning Board failed to follow applicable procedures, Wagner said. The board tried to be transparent but fell short under the law, he added.

According to the Board of Appeals ruling, specific requirements not met include:

• The September meeting was plagued with technical difficulties such that Planning Board members and attendees couldn’t hear one another.

• Roll call votes, required by state law, weren’t taken.

• The Planning Board failed to address each of the nine standards included under Article 21, the commercial and industrial structures section of the Weld Building Ordinance.

• The Planning Board concluded incorrectly that the deed AT&T submitted showed sufficient proof of right title and interest.

Ted Small, the attorney representing AT&T, argued that the Planning Board found the applicant met all requirements of the ordinance.

Weld doesn’t have a cellphone tower ordinance and the building ordinance lacks meat, he said.

“The question is if there was sufficient evidence to support the board’s decision,” Small said.

Regarding the lack of a roll call vote, the board voted unanimously and would presumably do so again if a roll call vote was held, he said. In the motion, it cited all nine criteria were met, Small noted.

“AT&T’s application addressed preservation, restoration,” he said. “The project is never going to be harmonious compared with undeveloped property.”

AT&T’s application did not appear to include a copy of the lease agreement, Agnieszka Dixon, Board of Appeals attorney with Drummond-Woodsum, said.

“The Planning Board should review it to assure right title of interest,” she said. “Without it, the Planning Board doesn’t have sound documentation.”

“What the Planning Board did not do, although member Thomas Wheeler was prepared to address them, was go through each criteria under Article 21,” Board of Appeals Chairman Sean Minear said. The board should have voted on criteria individually, then voted to approve the application, he said.

The Board of Appeals voted to send the application back to the Planning Board to pull together a new written decision and cure whatever errors may have occurred.

“They acted in good faith,” Board of Appeals member Heidi Wilcox said.

“I feel the same way,” board member Mark Smith said. There are overwhelming issues that need to be addressed, he noted.

Dixon will write up the results of the meeting and present them to the Board of Appeals for approval when it meets Tuesday, Jan. 19. After that meeting, the findings will be sent to the Planning Board.


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