Winchester Examines TeleComm Towers as Possible Revenue Source
At a recent Planning Board meeting, the topic of more telecommunication towers being placed in Winchester arose as a possible revenue source for the town.
Looking to add extra revenue to the town, the Planning Board examined a report from Town Planner, Betsy Ware, on the interest of T-Mobile telecommunications company placing wireless towers on town land.
“Most recently,” states the report, “the Wright-Locke Farm conservancy was approached by T-Mobile about the use of a hill near well house for an 80-foot telecommunication tower in exchange for $2,500/month rent.”
Policy decisions on the matter require positive votes from the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting in order to actually acquire the towers. Several questions in Ware's report that were mentioned when discussing policy were:
- Do the financial benefits outweigh the visual and/or use impacts to the property?
- What town lands could be used for telecommunication installation?
- What type of “creative” installations could be used to mask or hide the telecommunications equipment/antennae?
- Who receives the monthly rent fund from the installation? (Town, School or non-profit tenant?)
- Is there increased liability to the town? If so, are there ways to decrease the liability through legal agreements, etc.?
Rent from these towers range in price from $1,800-$3,000 per month. Lease agreements that T-Mobile have presented range from 15-30 years.
In December of 2010, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to allow AT&T to build a 100-foot cell phone tower next to the Elks building.
The last issue discussed in the report were radio frequency and the potential danger they may cause.
Stated the report: "It is recommended that the town consider allowing the use of town-owned land only if there is a full understanding of radio-frequency emissions issues and that everyone feels comfortable with the specific installation. At present there are at least two telecommunications carriers located on the Winchester Hospital building at 41 Highland Street. If such exposure were harmful, it is doubtful that the hospital would have tow carriers locating their equipment on the hospital roof.”
Although excited about the possible revenue increases to the town, the Planning Board thought that the people to handle moving these proposals forward were the Board of Selectmen.
Board Member, Elizabeth Cregger, summed up this thought when she said: “I think the Board of Selectmen needs to be the impetus and we will support.”