Editor's Note: Due to a miscommunication with Verizon officials, a version of this story ran yesterday identifying the incorrect location of a proposed cell tower. To correct the record we are rerunning an updated version of this story.
SAXTONS RIVER -- The Saxtons River Board of Trustees is hosting an informational meeting to discuss a proposal to erect a cell tower in Warner Center. The meeting is scheduled for Aug. 16, at 9 a.m., in the lower dining room at Christ's Church on Main Street.
Harold Buchner, owner of the property, recently approached the Saxtons River trustees with the proposal to locate the 100-foot tower on his property. Because of covenants on the land, stated the notice for the meeting, he is required to have the approval of the trustees for the project. The village also owns property that abuts the Warner Center parcel.
At its July 21 meeting, the board heard from Andrew Davis, real estate consultant for Verizon, attorney Brian Sullivan, and Louis Hodgetts, an engineer from DuBois & King Inc. Davis presented the trustees with maps and diagrams of the proposal, noting that often emergency services utilize antennas to place communications equipment on the towers.
The trustees discussed such issues as access roads, the tower structure and whether any other carriers might use the tower. Davis told the trustees that "colocation" with other carriers could be possible in the process, but is really up to other carriers.
In an e-mail to the Reformer, Michael Murphy, Verizon Wireless spokesman for New England, noted Verizon filed its 45-day notice with the Vermont Public Service Board "to construct a cell site near 962 Rockingham Road to provide improvements in service and coverage in the town of Rockingham and along portions of Route 103 and I-91."
However, noted Murphy, he was not in a position to comment on a possible cell tower in Saxtons River.
"In terms of the Warner Center property, I believe it would be premature for me to comment as we have not made any type of filing for this or any other property aside from 962 Rockingham Road," he wrote in his e-mail. "Given the highly competitive nature of our industry, I'm not keen to give other wireless carriers such insight into our thoughts or plans. But I will say it would not be unusual for us to explore complimentary locations when we are looking to enhance our network -- a contiguous wireless network depends upon overlapping circles of coverage so oftentimes we explore opportunities in adjoining areas in order to engineer the overlapping circles that allow customers to maintain their connection as they move and are 'handed-off' from cell site to cell site."
Verizon has been in touch with the Rockingham Planning Commission, noted Murphy, and plans to meet with its members soon. After that meeting, Verizon plans to file a formal application for the site at 962 Rockingham Road with the PSB under the Section 248a process, which normally doesn't require local approval. However, if there are covenants on a property, such as is indicated in this situation, the village's board of trustees might have the final say on the proposal.
Murphy noted that nearly all of Verizon's cell sites in Vermont feature Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution and the tower in Saxtons River will offer LTE coverage on new wireless spectrum it purchased a few years ago.
"In short," wrote Murphy, "we are seeking to make this private investment to improve coverage and add network capacity to stay ahead of the rising demand for wireless broadband in and around Rockingham. Customers today are increasingly taking advantage of mobile applications on their mobile devices and this type of data-intensive behavior requires us to reinvest into our infrastructure so we can continue to provide a great wireless experience."
Murphy noted that in 2013, Verizon Wireless invested more than $245 million into wireless network enhancements throughout the New England region.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.