State approves VTel tower in Guilford


GUILFORD -- The Vermont Public Service Board has given a Springfield company the go-ahead to build a new, 90-foot-tall wireless-broadband facility in Guilford.

VTel Wireless Inc. now can move forward with constructing a monopole tower and associated equipment at 663 Barney Hill Road. State officials say they found no evidence that the structure will have any "undue adverse effect on aesthetics" at or near the site.

"The project will employ a relatively short tower, flush-mounted antennas and will use a matte gray finish to avoid glare in order to minimize visibility from the surrounding area," Public Service Board officials wrote in an order accompanying a certificate of public good issued to VTel.

"The project will be located in an area that is screened by vegetation and farm buildings from surrounding properties," the state's order says. "Therefore, VTel has taken reasonable steps to mitigate the aesthetic effect of the project, and the project will not be shocking or offensive to the average viewer."

VTel is working to expand its broadband service statewide. The company is not offering traditional cellular service, but rather a high-speed, wireless Internet service that will compete with traditional Internet providers such as cable companies.

The company has run into opposition when proposing new towers in some area municipalities, including Wardsboro and Newfane.

By comparison, there have been few such concerns expressed in Vernon, where VTel plans to ask state permission to erect a 90-foot-tall monopole on Pond Road.

And Guilford officials heard no complaints about the proposed Barney Hill Road facility.

"I heard from people who were hopeful that they would get it, because they have no access," Selectboard member Anne Rider said.

"I think it's good news," Rider added.

According to the state's certificate of public good, the Guilford VTel project includes the new 90-foot monopole and "nine panel antennas of various sizes to be flush-mounted to the tower."

Also included are two microwave dish antennas, each about 2 feet in diameter; an equipment cabinet; a 10-foot by 7-foot concrete pad; and a 12-foot-wide, 34-foot-long gravel access road.

The project will require a total "earth disturbance" of about 750 square feet.

Officials said they've found that the project "will not have an undue adverse impact on flood ways, the scenic or natural beauty of the area, aesthetics, historic sites or rare and irreplaceable natural areas."

In July, Guilford Selectboard received a report from a consultant who conducted a "balloon test" by raising a red helium balloon 90 feet in the air at the Barney Hill Road property.

"The topography and dense tree cover within the 1-mile radius of the proposed site made viewing the balloon from public roads and places very difficult," the consultant wrote.

The Vermont Department of Public Service recommended that the board approve the VTel project "without additional hearings or investigation," the certificate of public good says.

No other comments were filed with the board.

Mike Faher can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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