Much opposition to VTel telecommunication tower

By Heather McKim

A wireless telecommunication proposal at 144 Air Park Road, the sewer service area boundary, possible lakeshore overlay zoning, and options for modifying “developable area” were the issues that the Shelburne Planning Commission sought to tackle at its May 23 meeting.

Representatives from VTel were on hand to talk about the company’s planned 75-foot telecommunication tower at Air Park Road. The proposed tower would have nine panelized antennas flush-mounted at three levels and two microwave dishes. It would serve 2,600 area households.

The proposal is not without controversy. Owners of neighboring properties were present at the meeting to voice their objections to the planned location.

Bruce Uvanni said that the two trees that the company plans to cut down for the project are on his property. The tower would be next to his well and a mere 80 feet from his house. He said that he would have to deal with, “blinking light shining” directly into his bedroom.

“Poor customer service. Poor customer satisfaction. No benefit to the town,” Uvanni said. “I think that these people are looking at the easiest [not best] place to put it.”

Grant Urie, who had previously approached the Selectboard regarding the project, also offered his objections to the project. “Upon review, we find a number of errors and omission within the materials provided [by VTel].”

Another neighbor, Tom Anderson, also opposes the proposed location.

Ultimately, the Public Service Board will make the decision. The town can only offer a recommendation, and town zoning regulations are trumped by federal regulations.

Members of the Planning Commission would like more information regarding the proposed project, including a correct aerial map.

Commissioner Kate Lalley said that this choice of site seems to be “tremendously impactful” and believes that it would be better suited for the Shelburne Green Building.

No decision was made regarding recommendations to the Public Service Board.

Another agenda item that elicited much discussion was that of the sewer service boundary. The Town Plan specifies that the Sewer Service Area is to be re-examined every five years.

“Having the same comments every two weeks is not productive,” Chairman Brian Precourt said, showing his frustration after an audience member’s comments.

After further audience comments, Precourt said, “I’m just trying to get a consensus and draft an opinion for the Selectboard. That’s all I’m trying to do.”

The Planning Commission worked through each item with the exception of the O’Brien property, which will be addressed later. No major changes were recommended.

The Planning Commission took a look at lakeshore overlay zoning revisions, which will affect those looking to alter their lakeside homes.

One resident said that he would like for the Commission to build some flexibility into the ordinance. He and his wife would like to add a dining room to their home to accommodate their grandchildren, but having the room on the second story would not be practical for the elderly couple.

Precourt questioned how the language within the ordinance should be. Ultimately, though, it was decided that the Commission would revisit the issue later.

Developable area, which is used as a density tool, was the final issue addressed within the approximately three-hour meeting.

“[It’s] not really written for small lots,” Commissioner Dick Elkins said.

“It’s a density tool, but it is not universally and fairly used,” Commissioner Ronald Bouchard said. However, he said that he was concerned about removing the restrictions.


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