NEAL P. GOSWAMI
Senior Staff Writer
BENNINGTON -- Verizon Wireless has informed the town that it intends to seek state approval for a 90-foot cell tower on top of Mount Anthony.
The company informed the town and other statutory parties in April that it will soon file a permit application with the state’s Public Service Board for a certificate of public good. The notice is required through the PSB’s Section 248 process.
According to the letter sent to the town and others, the proposed tower will replace an existing 70-foot tower at the top of one of Bennington’s most recognizable landmarks. The 70-foot tower and a 60-foot wooden pole will be taken down and consolidated into one tower.
The 90-foot height has been requested "to allow the signal to pass unobstructed and deliver the coverage needed to provide data and high-speed Internet access to previously unserved portions of Bennington."
The new, taller tower, if approved by the state, will have 12 panel antennas in three areas. Verizon is also seeking approval of a 12-foot by 30-foot prefabricated structure with two rooms at the base of the tower. One room will contain transmitting and receiving equipment, while the other will house a diesel emergency generator.
In the letter, drafted by the Burlington law firm Murphy Sullivan Kronk, Verizon indicated that the project has been designed to expand wireless coverage to areas not currently served by an existing tower in downtown Bennington. Installation of the new tower will allow for coverage along portions of Routes 7 and 9, and provide service to Southern Vermont College, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and west to the New York border.
Verizon drew attention to Bennington’s Town Plan, writing that telephone and Internet service is "fundamentally important to local residents and businesses and critical to future economic development in Bennington."
The letter from Verizon was dated April 15. The company was free to file its plan with the PSB any time after 45 days of sending the letter.
Bennington Planning Director Daniel Monks said the town currently has no formal position on the Verizon tower project. However, the town could take a position when Verizon files its request with the state. The town can then seek to intervene and request a hearing.
Verizon does not need to seek permission from the town for the project. However, Monks said stuck a structure would not be permitted by the town because of its height. The new tower will be "significantly taller and significantly more visible" than the existing ones on Mount Anthony, he said.
Contact Neal P. Goswami at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter: @nealgoswami