by Andrew Martin
The possibility of a telecommunications tower being erected in Hyde Park is back on the table. For the second time in two years the Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) is in the processing of acquiring the proper permits for a communications tower that would be erected on the Lanphear Farm just off Route 100 in Hyde Park. The proposal by the company to erect a tower on a different portion of the Lanphear Farm located off Webster Road has been cast aside in favor of this new location.
The communications tower proposed by VTeL is part of a statewide effort to bring broadband to everyone, and the proposal for the tower has now gone before the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) seeking a Certificate of Public Good. The new proposed location for the tower is behind the Lanphear barn to the southwest. The project calls for a 90 foot single carrier pole with nine panel antennas and two dish antennas mounted near the top of the tower. A 10 by 7 concrete pad would serve as the base of the structure, and a small gravel road would provide access to the site from an existing driveway. A total of eight utility poles would also run along the tree line from Webster Road to service the site.
No official town zoning approval is required for towers such as the one being proposed in Hyde Park, which are exempt from local zoning. However, according to Hyde Park Town Administrator Ron Rodjenski both the Hyde Park Planning Commission and Hyde Park Selectboard have provided input and comments to the PSB on the application for the tower. All comments on the application for the project were due December 3, 2013.
Rodjenski further explained that at the current time the Hyde Park Selectboard has decided to recommend that the PSB approve the application for a Certificate of Public Good for the tower. In a letter dated November 27, 2013 that was sent to the PSB the board voiced their support for the new project, stating “Please accept this letter of support for the issuance of a certificate of Public Good to allow the new telecommunication tower to be installed in the revised location; southwesterly of the Lanphear barn.” Like the Planning Commission, the Hyde Park Selectboard had previously voted to oppose the issuance of a Certificate of Public Good for the plan to place a tower elsewhere on the Lanphear property.
The Hyde Park Planning Commission has chosen to not support the issuance of a Certificate of Public Good for the new project due to a number of concerns they have with the project. One major concern is the fact that the overhead utility poles mentioned in the application will have to be installed leading to the new location of the proposed tower. In their own letter the PC explained that these poles will be highly visible from Route 100 and “will create a significant new undue negative impact on the scenic and aesthetic quality of the Route 100 corridor.” The PC also raised concerns about the fact that a balloon test was not performed at the new site. However, in their letter to the PSB dated November 26, 2013 the Hyde Park PC did state that “…this new tower location is superior to the original location at Webster Road…”
In order to alleviate their concerns the PC asked in their letter that a balloon test be done at the new site and evidence be provided that this new location is in fact the best locale for the tower. The commission also raised the possibility of the overhead utility lines being eliminated.
Along with the earlier proposal to place the tower off Webster Road on the northeastern corner of the farm another proposal to have the tower placed on an existing silo on the farm was also previously considered. However, that silo was torn down before plans could be finalized.