Wednesday November 21, 2012

Newfane cell tower: site selection is key

Editor of the Reformer:

I’m writing in response to your two Reformer articles regarding the proposed Newfane cell tower. Before anyone wants to cast stones at who they consider "NIMBY" fellow Vermonters, please consider the following: I was at Thursday’s Newfane Selectboard meeting, and no one there spoke out against a Newfane cell tower. In fact, most of us do want cell service. In the tradition of Vermont, we would have wanted to provide AT&T and the Selectboard some input, ideas and helpful suggestions to ensure a thoughtful, less invasive tower location. Parish Hill is just slightly over 1,000-feet and with the current proposed location, the tower would extend more than seven stories above the tree line. Newfane has many hills over 1,500-feet (and less populated) which could enable the tower height to be closer to the tree line. There are other locations, both on Parish Hill and close by, that are less densely populated but might still be suitable, with landowners who are willing to discuss these locations with AT&T.

The proposed site was both convenient and economic for AT&T. They got a landowner to sign a lease (contingent upon PSB approval) before even presenting their plan to our Selectboard.


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Even though Newfane’s cell tower ordinance requires a balloon test for eight days, AT&T only did a one-day balloon test, with only one day’s notice to the Selectboard. AT&T claims that the tower will not affect any scenic vistas, but in the Newfane Town Trails, "Laura’s Lookout" will probably have a bird’s eye view of the tower (AT&T acknowledges that the Newfane town garage, 500-feet below the lookout, is in direct view of the tower).

Parts of the Williamsville and South Newfane villages would probably have a view of the tower, at least October-May, as would much of the Dover Road in between. Cell tower RF (radiofrequency) waves travel horizontally; many have said that those below tall towers’ range sometimes don’t even benefit. During the aftermath of Irene, some neighbors along the Rock River said they didn’t benefit from the temporary tower erected on Parish Hill (from AT&T; it was wonderful of them to provide it). The tower was moved farther away from the Parish Hill neighbor who had volunteered his property, because his neighbor objected to the generator noise. Noise from a much larger tower generator would be obnoxious, another of many reasons to situate the tower in a less-densely populated area.

Most Vermonters do want cell service throughout Vermont, and Newfane would benefit from a local cell tower. We would just like a more informed, balanced approach to site selection. It’s ironic that Vermont residents installing solar panels must notify abutting property owners. Why is it that corporations can erect cell towers anywhere they choose, without any local input at all? It’s not always a NIMBY issue; it’s a common sense issue. With cooperation from all parties involved, we can all get what we want, a win-win.

Jake Urato,

South Newfane, Nov. 18

Board urged to endorse cell tower

Editor of the Reformer:

Of the seven years I spent on the Newfane Selectboard I have absolutely only one regret -- and that’s having voted for the current Newfane Cell Tower Ordinance. In retrospect that was a mistake that has done a disservice to the people of our town. In today’s world, access to cell service is an integral part of society ( even in third world countries) -- but not in Newfane. Here for well-intentioned but perhaps misguided reasons we chose to put up roadblocks instead of taking the opportunity to encourage the coming of the cell phone. And for my part in this I apologize. We were wrong and we were short-sighted. I urge our current Selectboard not to continue or repeat our mistake.

For years our fire and safety people have noted the impossibility of communications in large parts of Newfane. The availability of cell service in such situations would have been, and in the future could still be, invaluable. When communication is needed in a life-threatening situation, or for reaching a service station or loved one when your car has broken down on one of our less-travelled roads, or to conduct your small business more effectively, or for many other reasons, it is just unconscionable for us not to support and take advantage of the technology that can immediately help our fellow citizens.

I know there are concerns that people have raised about cell service. The health and safety implications of cell towers have been addressed repeatedly. The "not in my backyard" issue is certainly understandable, but would we take that position if we knew a cell tower could perhaps help save a neighbor or friend’s life? Let me offer this right now: if AT&T and the State think it would work, my wife and I would be delighted to have the Newfane cell tower built on our property -- Newfane and Vermont would still be beautiful.

I urge the Newfane Selectboard to endorse construction of a cell tower for our Town and to provide a favorable recommendation to the Vermont Public Service Board as soon as possible. I know the PSB doesn’t need the favorable recommendation from the Selectboard. But by providing one the Selectboard will not only be doing what’s right for the broader community, it will also be avoiding an inaction that it might very well look back on with regret because it wasn’t in the best interests of Newfane.

Gary Katz,

Newfane, Nov. 17

This Thanksgiving, skip the turkey

Editor of the Reformer:

With his recent re-election, President Obama has won the power to pardon more turkeys on Thanksgiving. But so does every one of us, by choosing a non-violent Thanksgiving observance that gives thanks for our good fortune, health, and happiness with a life-affirming, cruelty-free feast of vegetables, fruits and grains.

Here are more terrific reasons: You will stay alert through the entire football game; you are what you eat -- Who wants to be a "butterball?"; your vegetarian kid won’t have to boycott the family dinner; you won’t have to call Poultry Hotline to keep your family alive; fruits and vegetables don’t have to carry government warning labels; you won’t sweat the environment and food resources devastation guilt trip; you won’t spend a sleepless night wondering how the turkey lived and died; and your body will welcome a holiday from saturated fat, cholesterol and hormones.

Our own dinner this Thanksgiving will feature a "Tofurky," lentil roast, mashed potatoes, corn stuffing, stuffed squash, candied yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. An Internet search on "vegetarian Thanksgiving" got us more recipes and other useful information than we could possibly use.

Kyle Roberts,

Brattleboro, Nov. 14

Lend a hand to
fill the shelves

Editor of the Reformer:

It’s that time of the year again when the Valley Lions Club and the River Valley Credit Union in Townshend partner up to stamp out hunger and help the Townshend Food Shelf.

Once again, for every donation, the Valley Lions Club and the River Valley Credit Union will match dollar for dollar up to $500. Our goal is to reach $1,000 and have enough food to get the shelf through the winter. Also, to be able to feed the large number of people who rely on the food shelf. There will also be a place at the Credit Union where you can donate non-perishable items, along with a jar for donations.

Our organization thinks it is important to increase community awareness and involvement. It makes a person donating feel good, and the persons receiving the gift of food feel good knowing someone cares. The Townshend Food Shelf is a valuable resource in our community.

Please stop by the River Valley Credit Union in Townshend, drop a donation in the jar, put food in the bin or mail a contribution to: The Valley Lions Club, P.O. Box 153, Newfane, VT 05345. Thank you for your help.

Natalie Donovan, Secretary

Valley Lions Club

Newfane, Nov. 9