By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Planning Board approved seven of eight special permit petitions by Verizon for small cell equipment on telephone poles along Route 6. One petition, to replace a utility pole at Fort Phoenix, was withdrawn by Verizon before the meeting.
After much discussion about each of the eight locations, the board decided to approve all except the one at 280 Huttleston Avenue (V#SC08).
The pole is in front of Joseph Borelli’s house, and Mr. Borelli sent correspondence with a list of questions and objections, including that the pole in question is actually on his property.
The issue came up at the 1/0/17 meeting, when the board continued all the hearings so Verizon could clear up issues and get further information on a number of questions for several of the locations.
Attorney Daniel Klasnick, representing Verizon, presented the board with a survey plan that showed the pole at 280 Huttleston Avenue is not on Mr. Borelli’s property. The only problem was, the plan was not stamped as certified.
After much wrangling back and forth, including a protracted discussion about Mr. Borelli’s insistence that his questions were not answered satisfactorily, although board members and town planner and economic development director Bill Roth said most of them were answered satisfactorily, the issue came down to the stamp.
Planning Board member Ann Richard, in particular, made it clear that she was not inclined to vote for the petition. Since two board members, Gary Staffon and John Farrell were both absent, each petition needed every single vote to be a “yes” in order to pass. Special permits require six positive votes.
PB Chairperson Wayne Hayward gave Mr. Klasnick the option of withdrawing the petition or asking for a continuance so he could get the survey plans stamped.
Mr. Roth said that he was satisfied with all answers to Mr. Borelli’s questions, but hesitated to accept plans that were not stamped.
Board member Rene Fleurent said that if Mr. Borelli did indeed make a formal agreement with Eversource to put the pole on his property, then there should be some documentation.
The pole belongs to Eversource, but Verizon will pay to have its equipment added to it, including any changes to the pole. Most of the special permits require replacing the poles with higher ones. The one at 280 Huttleston Avenue, near Mr. Borelli’s home, will not need to be replaced.
“I don’t see any reason to hold this up any longer,” said Mr. Fleurent. “They’re just putting more equipment on top of it.”
Ms. Richard said that the board often says it wants more participation by the public, and Mr. Borelli was participating, albeit from afar, and so his voice should be heard.
Mr. Borelli insists that in order for the pole to be installed in its current location, he had to give permission because it is on his property.
Mr. Roth said if the plans presented by Mr. Klasnick were stamped, there would be no question, but because the were not certified, there was still some doubt.
The specter of losing the vote by one, Ms. Richard’s, loomed large in the room. She made no secret of her opinion or intention.
“I was the one who wanted to continue it,” said Ms. Richard. “I’m just putting it out there. It’s not rocket science.”
“If the plans were stamped, it would be done,” said Mr. Roth.
In the end, Mr. Klasnick asked the board to continue the petition and the board approved it for the 3/14 meeting.
The other petition, for new cell equipment at 3 Fort Street, was withdrawn at the request of the petitioner. The reason is unclear, but is probably because it is not legal to put the pole on park lands.
All the other petitions are along Route 6. Mr. Klasnick and engineer Keith Vellante explained that the proposed cell equipment will improve service for customers as they drive along Route 6 and for customers in the immediate vicinity.
Small Cell Equipment (SCE) is designed to handle data in the busiest places to lighten the load of “macro sites,” such as the larger facility on Mill Road.
The SCE locations that were approved are:
• 142 Huttleston Ave., at the Phoenix Restaurant, a new 39-foot pole will replace the 29-foot;
• 188 Huttleston Avenue, across from McDonald’s, will use the existing 28-foot pole;
• 87 Huttleston Avenue, near Honey Dew Donuts, a new 39-foot pole will replace the existing 29-foot pole;
• 7 Huttleston Avenue, across the street from the Fairhaven High School, will replace the existing 24-foot pole with a new 39-foot pole;
• 325 Huttleston Avenue, near Kenny’s Farm Stand, will replace the existing 26-foot pole with a new 39-foot pole;
• 344 Huttleston Avenue, near Blossom, will replace a 28.5-foot pole with a 39-foot pole;
• 402 Huttleston Avenue, near Marion Pediatrics, replaces a 29-foot pole with a 39-foot pole.
Approval of the petitions included a number of conditions designed to protect the town from any costs associated with the projects.
In another matter, the board discussed a zoning bylaw text amendment that will be on the town meeting warrant in May.
Denise DeCosta acquired enough signatures to get an article on the warrant that would allow personal dog kennels in an RA zone. Ms. DeCosta was denied the opportunity to get a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, on the grounds that they had no authority to grant the special permit in an Residential A zone. The proposed bylaw would allow it by special permit.
However, problems and questions with the article as written led Ms. DeCosta to conclude that it would be better for her to re-write the article and resubmit it at another town meeting. She will work on the language of the article with Mr. Roth and the Animal Control Officer.
Click here to download the entire 2/23/17 issue: 02-23-17 KoolKids