Owner file

Essex neighbors file second appeal in cell tower fight | News

ESSEX – A group of neighbors opposed to a 150-foot cell phone tower project on Eastern Avenue filed a second zoning appeal in Superior Court, but this time it is suing the Town Planning Council, the developer of the cell phone tower and the site owner to sue.

On December 7, nine neighbors living on Eastern Avenue, Haskell Court, Essex Reach Road and Cogswell Court appealed the Planning Council’s decision to grant a special permit to TowerNorth Development to build the cell phone tower on land owned by John E. Coughlin. at 65 and 73 Eastern Ave., according to the lawsuit.

The plan has sparked opposition since its first proposal in 2020.

“The ruling should be overturned as it falsely issued a special permit that does not comply with Essex Zoning By-Laws by allowing a cell phone tower in an unauthorized location with insufficient setbacks that would adversely affect the applicant’s adjacent properties, despite the applicants’ failure to prove a significant gap in coverage or conduct a systemic study of alternative sites, ”the call said.

In November, the same group filed a lawsuit in Essex Superior Court, appealing the grant of four waivers by the city’s zoning appeal board. The group argued that the decision “should be overturned because it wrongly granted exemptions from the Essex zoning bylaw”.

The issue in the previous appeal revolved around the relief granted by the Zoning Board for minimum requirements due to the location of the proposed tower being within two miles of another; have a setback of 121 feet to the nearest property line, instead of the 187.5 feet required depending on the height of the tower; locate the tower 379 feet from the nearest house instead of the required 500 feet; and the absence of a party wall connecting the accessory buildings.

“The city is not commenting on pending litigation,” city administrator Brendhan Zubricki said when contacted by email. “The city council will not make any comments either. “

The tower developer, TowerNorth Development, has the same West Bridgewater address as Centerline Communications, according to court documents. A message left on the company’s general voicemail box and an email sent requesting comment were not answered on Friday.

Court documents indicate that the tower is proposed on a site consisting of two plots, one of 22.3 acres and the other of just over 3 acres.

The 73 Eastern Ave. is the location of North Shore Mini Storage, owned by Coughlin, which would lease space from TowerNorth for the tower.

The tower site itself would be just over 2,500 square feet and would be in a 60 foot by 60 foot gated complex. It would be located in the southern part of the site, behind the self-storage buildings. The tower would carry an antenna for Verizon and space for three other wireless carriers to co-locate.

The plan needs waivers from the Zoning Appeal Board and the Conservation Board. The special permit does not take effect until the legal appeal against the decision of the Zoning Council has been made.

According to the appeal of the Town Planning Council, the special permit requires applicants to justify six proposals: that the use is in harmony with the zoning; it’s in an appropriate place; it has adequate sanitation or public water supply or suitable soil for it; the development “will not negatively affect the neighborhood”; “That there will be no nuisance or serious danger to vehicles or pedestrians presented or caused by the proposed use; And there will be adequate and appropriate facilities.

The planning council voted 5-0 for the plan. The lawsuit points out that the planning council made no finding about the provisions of the bylaw on cell phone towers that towers must be set back at least 150 feet from the wetland boundary, “with a minimum radius of at least … (150) feet from the base of the tower to the edge of the wood.

The appeal states that “the board’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and an abuse of discretion because it granted a special permit without making the necessary conclusions required by law and its own regulations and rules.”

The appeal says the council’s decision did not have a review of the site plan and depended on waivers issued by the zoning council “which do not comply with Essex Zoning By-Law, Federal Law or the State ”.

The appeal also argued that the decision was based on “zoning relief under the Telecommunications Act”, arguing that the applicant for the special permit was not a wireless service provider and was entitled no zoning relief under the Federal Telecommunications Act.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Daniel Hill and Dennis Murphy of Hill Law in Boston, also points out that the decision was unreasonable because “there is no material gap in coverage to force zoning relief under the law. federal law that does not comply with state law ”.

The Planning Council’s decision, contained in court documents, states that: “The applicant has documented a need for installation as part of the application by illustrating areas with low signal that will be improved to meet the mandates of the FCC under their license to operate. These findings were reviewed by an independent engineer provided by the applicant to review the application on behalf of the Zoning Appeal Board and the City of Essex.

Property owner John Coughlin could not be reached for comment on Friday. Hill has been left with a message for further comment.

Messages were left for Essex Planning Council member Lisa O’Donnell asking for further comment.

Planning council member Shelly Bradbury, who was elected to council in May and whose name does not appear in the call, declined to comment when joined. Bradbury had worked alongside a group called Save Essex’s Landscape in an effort to rewrite the city’s cell tower zoning rules.

Editor-in-Chief Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714 or by email at [email protected]