BRATTLEBORO -- AT&T is asking the Putney Selectboard and Planning Commission to hold off on making a decision about supporting the company’s petition for a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board for a proposed 130-foot cell tower on Shag Bark Hill.
The Selectboard met the night of Jan 22 to talk about the town’s official response to AT&T’s plan, but Selectboard Chairman Josh Laughlin said AT&T might make changes to its original plan and asked that the board wait until the amended plan is presented.
"They are re-evaluating that property and they asked us to wait until next week," Laughlin said. "We’re going to do that so we can hear what they have to say."
At a public meeting last week about 50 people showed up to voice their opposition to the proposal to erect the cell tower on land owned by Michael Mecheski at 20 Shag Bark Hill. Neighbors, and Putney residents who do not live near the site, spoke out against the plan to put up the tower in the densely wooded rural residential neighborhood.
At the Jan. 22 meeting, Laughlin said AT&T heard what was said at the first meeting, and he said the company is going to send engineers to the site to see if the tower can be placed farther back from the property line, closer to Mecheski’s house and away from the neighbors who border the property.
Laughlin also said he spoke with Mecheski who is willing to make changes to the plan to appease neighbors.
Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard said she has received letters from concerned residents, and even with AT&T’s assertion that the tower might be placed deeper on the property, Stoddard said there is widespread opposition to the plan.
"I got the sense that there’s a strong feeling that the site in general is the wrong location," Stoddard said. "That’s the overall sense that I get and they would like to see that the board not recommend that the project move ahead on that property at all."
Laughlin said he is hearing from "large quantities of people" who want better cell phone service in Putney.
"Many more people than who are at this meeting tonight have come to me and said, ‘We need better cell service. This is a good thing,’" Laughlin said. "I have a ton of people saying they want this."
At the meeting Wednesday, residents talked about asking AT&T to consider other locations.
AT&T is asking the town to support its petition, though the Public Service Board will make the final determination, and the town’s input is only considered by the PSB while making a decision.AT&T has promised to come back and talk to the town in a week or so about potential changes to the Shag Bark Hill plan.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer