Cell tower proposal irks neighbor

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:11

    Hearing scheduled for May, By Jennifer Knocha GLENWOOD — Imagine living on a pleasant rural road in Vernon surrounded by woods, grass and quiet. Now imagine that your neighbor would like to complement all of that peace and natural beauty by putting up a 140-foot cell tower. This is exactly what Patrick Distasi of Silver Spruce Drive is being asked to contemplate, now that his neighbor, Joseph Wallace, is seeking variances to allow Verizon Wireless to erect a cell tower on his property. Distasi received formal notification of the plan, as required by law, last Friday, and was stunned. “There are only four or five people on this little road that would have received this letter, but there are going to be three or four thousand homes affected by this,” he said. “This will sit 157 feet off of my driveway, and everyone within 12 miles of my property will have this thing to stare at. And of course, the value of things will go down dramatically once this happens.” Distasi has jumped into action to try to prevent the tower from going up. He has retained legal counsel and is forming a coalition of people willing to work toward that goal. Calling it Glenwood ACTs Coalition, he plans to have a Web site up by March 29: glenwoodact.webs.com. Petitions will be posted on the site, Distasi says. ACT stands for against cell towers. “This is amazing! It’s greed-driven,” Distasi said. “A lot of people don’t want these towers, but the companies pay an extraordinary amount of money for the use of the land.” The Advertiser-News was unable to reach Wallace. A lawyer for Verizon Wireless declined to comment on the matter. A spokesman for Verizon Wireless, David Samberg, said he wasn’t sure whether the proposed tower would be camouflaged to look like a tree. He did say that in the company’s continual efforts to fill coverage gaps, it looks for areas where towers could be erected to provide cell reception. The proposal The plan calls for a communication facility consisting of a 140-foot pole with antennas attached to it and an 11- by 30-foot unmanned equipment shelter that would be contained within a 24- by 60-foot fenced-in area. For the plan to be approved, Wallace and Verizon Wireless would have to be granted five separate variances. These include: permission to put the tower in an area zoned for residential use only; a variance to exceed the maximum height for towers — current code limits height to 80 feet; and permission to install the tower on a 4.3-acre site. Current code calls for a site of 5 or more acres. The last two variances needed involve setbacks, as the ordinance calls for a minimum residential setback of 420 feet and a rear yard setback of 75 feet. The proposal envisions a residential setback of 62.9 feet and a rear yard setback of 31.2 feet. What do you think? Join the conversation at www.advertiser-news.com.